Jacqueline Spedding, Dragline 2020. Installation view. Photograph by Ona Janzen.
BIOME | HOME, BLUE MOUNTAINS CITY ART GALLERY, 26 SEPTEMBER - 29 NOVEMBER 2020
Jacqueline Spedding, Biome | Home 2020. Installation views. Photograph by Ona Janzen.
Biome | Home 2018-2020. Handmade glazed ceramic tiles, found Victorian cast-iron fireplace, reupholstered found armchair with bracken fern, laser-cut watercolour paper with charcoal drawing substrate, altered mechanical music box ("Somewhere over the rainbow"), vintage drawers, animation loop with sound recording (4 mins 30 sec). Photography by Ona Janzen.
Biome | Home, Blue Mountains City Art Gallery. 26 September - 29 November, 2020. A BMCAG Exposé exhibition Jacqueline Spedding
STATEMENT Home is a place—real and imagined—that we retreat to for safety, rest and nurture. It is where we dream, imagine and begin to explore the world. Abandoned houses resonate in our collective psyche as haunting because they hold traces of ‘home’ but are no longer ours—nature has reclaimed and reshaped them as its own. The process of reclamation is unsettling: it speaks to us of deep time and forces beyond human reach. This installation explores ideas of home framed within the notion of a ‘biome’. Biomes are finely tuned natural systems that allow all life in a particular place to survive. This biome is part domestic, part wild, part dreamscape. Images of bracken fern permeate the space as a representation of loss and renewal. Bracken takes hold in degraded and disturbed soil; it is invasive but also regenerative, being one of the first plants to appear after a bushfire. The catastrophic destruction of last summer’s mega-bushfires and the pandemic that followed has exposed our interdependency with natural systems as never before. In the face of change and uncertainty, nostalgia can be reassuring, drawing us back to a time where our memories and dreams appeared solid and uncomplicated. But we can’t dwell there. We have grieved deeply for the losses of this time, looking to new shoots as a sign of resilience and hope. The spectre of blackened tree limbs and ash-barren soil will haunt us for decades to come. But time is shifting; life is taking on a new form in our post-Black Summer, COVID-19 world. And spring has arrived.
LIST OF WORKS in order of appearance in the gallery: Dragline, 2020. 300gsm laser cut watercolour paper over compressed charcoal drawing on archival blotting paper. 56 x 76 cm each. 40 pieces. Cold comfort, 2018-2020. Found cast iron fireplace, handmade glazed earthenware tiles, digital image projection, ceramic leaves, coal, bushfire debris, organic matter. 140 x 120 x 32 cm. Burning bush chair, 2020. Found armchair, dyed cheesecloth, coal and bracken fern. 700 x 850 x 700 cm. Beyond the rainbow 2020. Found and altered mechanical music box ('Somewhere over the rainbow'), custom decals, acrylic paint and varnish, 15 x 8 x 10 cm; digital animation with audio (4 min 30 sec loop).
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to acknowledge that the City of the Blue Mountains is located on the unceded lands of the Darug and Gundungurra peoples and pay my respects to the traditional custodians of this land and to elders past, present and emerging. It is not without pain, trauma and dislocation that we come to be in this place. As an artist born on the land of the Darug and Darkingung language groups, I celebrate the strength, dignity and resilience of the oldest continuous culture on earth and call on our Federal Government to adopt the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.
Thank you to Sabrina Roesner, Diana Robson, Mark Surtees and the staff and volunteers at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. Thanks to Celeste and Nik from MakeFab Marrickville (laser cutting), Megan Turton and Piaa Jain (vector art), Michael Hoffman (plywood fireplace surround), Brecon Littleford from Kin Things (animation and sound recording), Click Media Penrith (wallpaper drawer decal), Decal Specialists Melbourne (music box decals). Coal provided by Centennial Coal, Clarence, New South Wales. Ona Janzen (studio and gallery photography).
Special thanks to Michael O’Regan, Kath and Pete Thurgood, Honora Ryan, Wei Zen Ho, Dee Taylor-Graham, El Gibbs, Christine Myerscough and everyone who has provided words of encouragement along the way.
In memory of my grandparents, George and Doris Lambert and my father, Ivan Spedding.