Painter Linda Gallus makes a welcome return following ‘Tableau’ in 2022 and her well received ‘Entropy’ Exhibition, that went on, in part, to form the ‘The White Farm’ Exhibition and film at the National Wool Museum, with two works joining their permanent collection. Bouncing ideas and inspiration off each other, we also welcome her studio partner, experienced ceramicist Kaye Clancy, joining her in ‘Consequences’ and seen for the first time at The Hive.
Together they have arrived at a poignant environmental statement from differing perspectives and in multiple mediums, to question the impact of all things invasive on our local Bellarine Peninsula.
‘A ship upon the seas heading to the distant pristine, cared for land, alive with nature and brimming with birdlife.’
As the title of this exhibition suggests, I have been exploring the remaining remnant vegetation on the Bellarine Peninsula in order to understand the consequences of European settlement. I have often wondered what this land would have been like prior to cultivation, settlement division and removal of indigenous vegetation on a grand scale.
The Bellarine Landcare Group has been very helpful in identifying these precious places, and I thank Sophie particularly for her enthusiasm and for sharing her knowledge. Some of these specimens are accessible to the general public and some are so rare and endangered that they remain a closely kept secret. And some are on private property where the owners do not want the location disclosed.
In general, I have based my composition on what I have seen. In some cases I have changed the environment to suit my imagined pre-settlement landscape. Some of the larger trees are now surrounded by suburbia, some are alone in paddocks, vulnerable and lacking a natural supportive ecosystem. I have a mixture here, some more mystical and imagined and some quite straightforward and much like what we see today. But overall, my aim is to depict beautiful places, precious remnants, often threatened and with an uncertain future.
I have added in animals and birds to my paintings that I think would have lived in these places prior to settlement. Apparently, the land was teaming with wild life – huge numbers of animals, birds and all sort of creatures inhabited the wide open spaces. That is until the fences were built and the vegetation was removed for livestock and cultivation.
So, these are the consequences we face today. I had to seek out the few remaining indigenous specimens and the small pockets of land that we can actually walk through and imagine what our wonderful ‘Balla-Wein’ might have looked like over 220 years ago. I am awe struck by the age of the trees and shrubs, often many hundreds of years old. Living things, the giants of our land, significant and essential to the life and meaning of Creation itself for Indigenous people. So precious for hunting, ceremony, food, medicine, tools and so much more.
We must protect what remains. And we must create new supportive environments, grow and nurture all that we possibly can, and devote large areas to revegetation.
Being a descendent of the Bangerang people from South Eastern Australia our country has always played a big part in my life and meant a great deal to me.
I started thinking about the sailing ships and their figureheads which brought everything into this country and how these figureheads crashed through the surf of the oceans hitting every wave.
These figurehead sculptures were carved from huge pieces of wood by skilled craftsmen and in many cases were very expensive to produce. Ironically some proved too heavy for their boat and had to be cut off during the voyage and thrown overboard in order to make the vessel safe. These adornments were believed to bring good luck as many mariners were very super suspicious and believed a near naked woman had powers to calm treacherous seas. Paradoxically they believed that having a woman on board the vessel would bring bad luck. Their figureheads depicted not only women but also sea creatures, animals, men and important people.
My fascination started as I imagined these huge carved figures crashing through the surf of the oceans carrying all the people, plants, trees, machinery, furniture, and household goods and paraphernalia on their way to the newly discovered Great southern Land. This interest was heightened after visiting the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich a few years ago.
I came back home and started to sculpt my own version of these interesting figureheads from clay with the view to make them into characters with bright colours and interesting expressions. While thinking about the succulents and plants that were introduced, I decided to put them in their heads to highlight what a change these plants have made to our landscape.
In a view to replicate the landscape of mother England into pastures and gardens, introduced plant species and trees were planted. Huge swaths of native forests and trees were ripped out. There was little consideration of the environment and growing conditions of this is newly discovered country, and little appreciation for the knowledge and insight of the first nations people and their understanding of the land in which these plants would grow.
In the long term, regrettably, our countryside has been changed by these plants and spoiled because much of the original vegetation has vanished in this process.