North Sydney Art Prize

Here, you will find pictures of my installations, (along with commentary), for the North Sydney Art Prize at the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability site in Waverton.  Running from 11th of May to June 2nd 2024. Most recent collaborations with Mother Nature at the top of this page.


Hybrid Week ( Week 2)

This week I’m playing with hybrid forms – forms that are inspired by disparate nature elements, combined and assembled in novel ways.

Estivate/ Hybrid

With pine needles, palm tree fronds, magnolia leaves, bark and banksia pod.

Estivation – when animals, after a hot, dry, period of dormancy, ‘dehydrate’ and wake after rain is another of nature’s miracles. And it seems appropriate here to have this fishlike/plant creature appear on the grass after all the recent rain.

Twenty-Four Little Hybrids and their Shadows.

With figs, and assorted leaves, seeds and pods.

Along with the theme of hybridization, this piece works with shadows – only visible obviously, when the sun is out, and shifting along with its position in the sky.

The unusual moving shadows cast by these pieces also invoke the story of Plato’s Cave and the notion that the reality we perceive may well be a mere shadow of a greater reality.  I sometimes think many artists and unorthodox thinkers spend their lives lingering at the mouth of that metaphorical cave. Here they straddle both the perceived world and the reality beyond, attempting to translate what they see, or what they imagine they see, into something all at once palatable, accessible,  confounding,  meaningful, enigmatic, soothing, scandalizing, mesmerizing and maybe enlightening. And here, once more, the art becomes another shadow on the wall of human perception.

Words and shadows. They can really do your head in. Sometimes it helps to put aside all thought and just enjoy the absurdity.

Pedestrian Pressed.

With assorted pressed leaves and petals.

There’s nothing quite like someone advising an artist to not do something (or perhaps that’s just me) One of my proposed installation spots is this asphalt footpath, which I was told might not be a great place for an ephemeral piece, because of all the passing foot traffic. My first piece lasted less than 24 hours, not thanks to pedestrians, but heavy rain. Here, however is an attempt at something different. When pedestrians walk over this piece, it becomes more firmly embedded in the ground, more a part of the environment. Well, that’s the plan. Time, as with all these ephemeral pieces, will tell.

Tree Skirt Two

With viburnum leaves, toothpicks and tiny yellow serrated leaves from an unknown tree.  

Echoes from an Unseen World

My first four pieces in this exhibition with the theme of sustainability focus on revealing a few of the unseen forces that shape our world.   Because there is so much more to this world/universe/existence than meets the eye. Here, I encourage viewers to change their focus, to see the unseen.

Thank you to the North Sydney Council for this initiative, for supporting and giving voice to so many artists. What a massive effort for everyone involved.

Landing Pad for the Eyes of Seekers

With pine needles, palm tree fronds, plane tree leaves, bark, banksia, figs and toothpicks. How many of us, weary with technology, eventually find our homes in nature? How many of us, lost and in despair, find peace and sustenance in the natural world?

If you are one such soul, then this is for you, the seeker, the explorer, finally returning home and knowing it for the first time.

‘We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time’.

T S Eliot

Tear for a Thousand Executed Trees

With assorted twigs and branches.

Some people say art shouldn’t be political, but invariably it always – on some level – is.

And today, I’m going to that place where big business and environmental destruction meet.  This piece is in memory of the over one thousand local mature, healthy, trees destroyed to make way for a motorway of questionable benefits. Over the years, residents in my community have objected, protested, petitioned, all to no avail, because of the money, power, and the vested interests involved in this project.

Willfully ignored, all we can do now is watch, listen to the nocturnal hammering, and weep.

Tree Skirt

With plane tree and eucalyptus leaves, figs and toothpicks.

This piece echoes the beginning one of my favourite Alexander Pope poems:

‘All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good.
And, spite of pride, in erring reason’s spite,
One truth is clear, ‘Whatever is, is right.’

Alexander Pope

Leaf Ghosts/Turkey Genesis

This piece will probably, thanks to rain, be gone in the morning.

But who hasn’t seen beautiful patterns in bird droppings?

And, because all my pieces depend not only on the cooperation of the weather, but on the meanderings of the local brush turkeys, I dedicate this piece to them. May you keep your exploratory claws away from my artwork. If you must, however, investigate, and participate, please add a few enhancements.  Are you listening, you gorgeous, eccentric, birds?