Recently I participated in an artist in residency program on Russell Island. It was not something that I usually do. It was out of the blue in response to yet again broken plans by covid. I dove in heart and soul and found a moment or moments that were unexpected. Moving, uplifting, connecting with nature in a way that was pure and instinctual.
“Canaipa Mudlines began in 2016 with a small collective of Southern Moreton Bay Island artists seeking ways of connecting their creative practices with the island ecology. Based on Canaipa (Russell) Island, the project has developed as both established and emerging artists from the island and beyond make regular site excursions to create mostly ephemeral works in response to the places and qualities they encounter. Working in this way has contributed to both surprising developments in their individual practices and highlighting the often-overlooked richness of the island environment” (https://artgallery.redland.qld.gov.au/)
Not knowing what to expect, I tried to pre-think some ideas of what I could do in the Forest. Right from the start of the forest walkthrough, I knew this place was special. Every corner was like walking into a new forest. From Casuarina to paperbarks that still held scorch marks of fire, to fields of grass trees. A Tawny frogmouth sitting quiet and calm in the frantic chaos of photos on the very first day was a subtle introduction to the project’s ethos.
As I hunted for elements for my preconceived ideas, I passed a twisting stump coming out of the ground. Creating movement without moving, I stop thinking, stop planning. Just created from the patterns, shapes, and forms on display. It was somewhat primal, but the pattern and textures were purely artistic.
The forest installations encourage viewers to see more than a forest of trees but an inspirational playground. Where natures influence on art become prominent and not secondary, and the diversity of nature in the area comes into the spotlight
If you have the chance to visit Russell Island make sure you check out the Turtle Swamp Wetlands (ps, no turtles and no water… well one beautiful billabong) Best access via Bayswater Rd off Barcelona Terrace
Would love to know if any of the installations are still standing?