I marvel at the stunning geometry of eucalyptus gumnuts. These woody fruits usually feature four-, five-, or six-pointed star shapes—though sometimes I have found in them seven- or eight-pointed stars. To me, the eucalyptus is an artist, and the gumnuts are their artworks: they produce perfectly shaped wooden sculptures, and their function is to protect and release the seed so the tree can reproduce. Like flowers, the reproductive parts of any plant are often the most beautiful and extravagant.
As a trained sculptor, I can only dream of carving with such skill. The eucalyptus tree does it naturally, after practising for over 100 million years to get these shapes right. Since I can’t make so many beautiful and diverse sculptures by hand, my job as a human artist is to make others ‘see’ these perfectly shaped self-made wooden sculptures.
By pinning the gumnuts to the wall, I create my own geometrical patterns and organise them into what I consider ‘wall drawings’. I use the white of the wall as if it were a really large piece of paper. The contrast of dark colours and shapes against the white wall creates an optical tension between positive and negative space, foreground and background. It gives a simultaneous sense of fluidity, order and disorder. I love how the resulting pattern plays with the eyes of the viewer.
To accompany these wooden sculptural drawings, I have made a series called Sandstone Drawings, a hybrid art form that is both sculpture and drawing. I have carved abstract patterns in deep lines so the shade inside makes them look dark, contrasting with the exterior of the stone. The result is a sort of stone graffiti. With this technique, I make three-dimensional drawings that wrap around blocks of sandstone of various small sizes.
Gumnuts and Sandstone are both elements of the most typical of Australian landscapes and go together in an ancient relationship, now juxtaposed for my first show at Sullivan + Strumpf Gallery.
Sullivan+Strumpf acknowledge the Indigenous People of this land, the traditional custodians on whose Country we work, live and learn. We pay respect to Elders, past and present, and recognise their continued connection to culture, land, waters and community.