Generations - my second art installation; especially made for, and a part of, THE RED PROJECT a North Sydney Council Arts & Cultural event exhibiting 74 artists at 6 venues throughout the month of March, in celebration of creative women in North Sydney and International Women's Day.
There are threads linking Sydney’s sandstone bedrock with early human kinship
systems that scholars cite as matrilineal   . Both are historic and symbols for stability and endurance. Acknowledging this, and as a migrant Australian drawing from two cultures, I create an abstract, visual autoethnography regarding my female heritage. Crossing three generations: myself, Mum and her mother, I source family heirlooms and rituals juxtaposed with local, native flora to form a biomorphic extension to the site - an underground chamber at The Coal Loader. "Matter" comes from the Latin word mater meaning “mother.” Manifestations of matter, the elements, are central to the process: water in papermaking, earth in pigment and site, fire connecting core memories and patterns. Air in the scent of sampaguita (national flower of The Philippines) adds another nostalgic, sensory dimension. Loosely integrating the multi-level landscape of Filipino rice terraces with Sydney’s heritage sandstone bridges cultural associations, celebrating matrilineage, resilience and strength of the Divine Feminine archetype.
1 Chris Knight, 2012. Engels was Right: Early Human Kinship was Matriliineal, URL: http://libcom.org/history/engels-was-right-early-human-kinship-was-matrilineal accessed on 30 September 2017.
2 Hrdy, S. B. 2009. Mothers and others. The evolutionary origins of mutual understanding. London and Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
3 Opie, K. and C. Power, 2009. Grandmothering and Female Coalitions. A basis for matrilineal priority? In N. J. Allen, H. Callan, R. Dunbar and W. James (eds.), Early Human Kinship. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 168-186.
One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of this project is working with a heritage site. This means leaving no mark on the sandstone and returning the site to its original state before (my) intervention. Because I work with handmade paper which starts off very wet, I cannot dye the pulp or else it would stain the site. It is crucial that the pulp dries in time before pigment is applied. Three floor-standing fans are brought in to help dry the pulp as it rained heavily on the first day of install and water leaked through the ceiling of the chamber. The powdery nature of pigment means I need to mask off parts of the sandstone and use drop sheets in case of any fall-off. Installation took 3 full days from 9am to 5pm. De-Install, on the other hand, took only 2 hours! A lot of work, research and trials are made before the stages of Install/De-Install to make it feasible within the allocated time. This includes: making paper pulp, indoor trials at my art studio that emulate the humid underground conditions, an on-site installation trial in January 2018 and pre-fabricating as much as I can off-site such as scorching, sealing and colouring already dried handmade paper, and preparing wet sheets of pressed paper (water squeezed out to reduce on-site drying time). View snippets of my process on Instagram.
Pictures: © Anne Numont, Generations, 2018. Handmade paper and pulp, fire, pigment, pastel binder (gum tragacanth), pastel, PVA, sampaguita scent, local vegetation: bottlebrush, gum nuts, eucalyptus leaves and banksia, rosary beads, crocheted paper thread, everlasting flowers (Xerochrysum Helichrysum). Dimensions: variable. Site: Chamber 23 (off Tunnel 1), The Coal Loader, Waverton NSW Australia. Images: courtesy the artist.
Generations is supported by a grant from the NSW Government through Create NSW, and administered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).
MANY THANKS to Alison Clark, the Arts & Culture team at North Sydney Council, Primrose Paper Arts, Mandy Burgess and staff at The Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability.