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On arrival at All That We Are, I immediately felt very safe. There was no expectation, no required outcome of my time there. The time was mine. Simon and Victoria made that very clear. Yet they were also incredibly willing to look at and encourage the work I did make. Their spirit and conversations gave me permission: I was free.
The time spent in pure nature did wonders. I don’t understand how, it just did. Silence. Clean air. Sunsets. Sunrises. Collecting shells. Walking on sand. Looking at trees. Staring at the sea. This cleared my mind and told me it was right for me to create.
It was easy for me to submit to the creative process during this artist residency. A lot of this was down to how Simon and Victoria hosted me in a way that welcomed and freed me to do whatever I needed to do with the time.
These are excerpts from Emma Constantine’s book Reconnecting Skin, Stone and Sky, a memoir that accompanies her recent exhibition Body of Land in which she honestly reflects upon the joys and struggles of her creative process and in which her time at All That We Are is a main feature.You can purchase a copy here: https://tinyurl.com/y75ooluc
I’m back at All That We Are for a second residency. A week in the bright studio space, amongst the open forest, of the Ridgeline above Pipe Clay Lagoon.
During my first residency I set myself a plan for accomplishing a set of drawings I had been planning to embark on and had my head down in the studio. This time around I am taking time for learning through being within this place as well. Along while ago I did a course on the plants of Tasmania and since then I comeback to learning about them when ever I can. They feel like old friends. At the moment many of the native grasses are in bloom and I have been taking the opportunity to learn more about them, the long stems of the kangaroo and wallaby grasses are nodding with seed and the native cherry is beginning to fruit so I am drawn back to the cherry trees to collect from them each day.
My practice for a long time has circled around my curiosity for plants, I find they speak volumes about our attitudes and ideas and I often use this as the initial point to pivot upon in developing a work. This week I am pulling a few of the local plants into the studio to influence the making, drawing and thinking. All with a gratitude for the space of generous professionalism thatSimon and Victoria have developed here.
I am very grateful for this opportunity to take some time out of the busy pace of daily life and focus on creative thought and practice. The effects of being in this peaceful place are immediate, and my mind switches from a busy Urban life to that of a new artistic project.
I will spend this week working with a reflective practice of writing and making in the natural environment.
My creative practice is embedded in our relationship as Australians with the land and the natural environment. This week I will begin to explore how these relationships have changed as a result of the drought.
In time the work will include themes of memory, and narrative from farmers recalling attitudes of the past and present towards the natural environment.
The creative works made during this project will be a response to this issue.
We Johanna Tuukkanen, Pekka Mäkinen, Maija Eränen, (Live Umbrella Artists from Finland) with Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, from Australia, gathered here to consider our existential risk project amid the celebrations for the Tasmanian solstice.
It has been a chance to be at a place whose landscape screams its accreted losses,
Absences, and past frenzies. A visual document takes shape via Pekka’s camera lenses. We drove a lot. It is kind of unavoidable here. What is the existential risk implicit in a two-hour drive to see a 1000-year old pine tree clinging to the side of a mountain lake?
I’ve got the skylight room. When I wake in the night, I open my eyes and I’m looking up into forever. The stars are bright. I force my eyes open even though they’re sleepy-blurry, even though I want to be rested so I can work tomorrow. I can’t not look at this. I lie on my back, so very warm and comfortable, and blink into the bright, bright darkness.
1450 is beautiful. Water, hills and trees fill the acres of windows and it’s been fitted out with creative work-play in mind. Simon and Victoria are experts at making physical space for creativity. But they’re also aware of the required mental space.
‘You’re welcome to join us, but don’t if you don’t want to. Really don’t.’ Often I don’t. I make my own lunch and take it to my desk and speak to nobody. I have a big sense that they want what I want for myself. The space to create. As a mother and a freelance writer, this is not the case in my daily life. I’m surprised at the huge difference it makes having two people silently on my team this way.
Each time I step into a room with that view, onto the balcony or sit at a table and look out, my mind has a sense of openness and the possible.
For five days, I write.
Other times I’ve been faced with five days of solo writing time, I’ve been afraid of facing demons, of blockages and dark thoughts and dull procrastination. But the bright ocean in the window makes me brave and disciplined.
By the time I arrived at 1450 I was in real need of a break but also still very busy with preparing new works for pending exhibitions. So arrived pretty stressed, but at the end of nine days I left Victoria and Simon’s special corner of the world feeling calm and energised – ready to take on the challenge of a busy month ahead. It is seriously a beautiful place. Surrounded by forest and endless vistas of sea, sky and stunning landscape. I went for walks on vast empty beaches, along cliffs and bush trails – all a very welcome distraction to my work. While Dark Mofo was happening in Hobart and around I took advantage of some brilliant concerts, Dark Park, Winter Feast, and of course visited MONA (Museum of Everything was pretty incredible). I loved it all! The only disappointment was a no show Aurora Australis, so I made do with spectacular sunrises. Otherwise, intense focus on my projects was made more possible as I was left in peace and solitude. Victoria and Simon offered the perfect balance of allowing me my space and privacy while also offering support and their warm hospitality. I sincerely hope to make the time again to come back to this really special place.
Writer Jennifer Barrett (second from left) from Dublin undertook a seven day residency at 1450 to work on her new book. Jennifer, author of Look into the Eye and The Songbird’s Way had visited Australia but not Tasmania before. This photograph was for a lunch in celebration of her residency and coincided to become a celebration of International Womens Day 2017 (with Victoria, Kath, Alby, Peta and Kathryn – and dogs Sephy and Piper). To see more about Jennifer visit www.Jennifer-Barrett.com.
Here is a reflection on her visit from Jennifer Barrett:
I travelled from Ireland to Australia for work in March 2017 and was fortunate enough to be able to add on a glorious week at 1450 at the end of the trip. And what a gift it was – I am working on my first children’s book and spending time in Victoria and Simon’s artistic haven was just what I needed to get the words flowing. While sitting on the beautiful deck trying to fully take in the splendid views and the much welcome sunshine, an idea struck me. It was a pivotal idea – one which inspired an element that the book had been missing. My sincere thanks to Simon and Victoria who were so welcoming and got the balance just right between allowing me lots of space and time to contemplate and create, and check-ins and chats to ensure I didn’t start talking to the wombats! Tasmania is just beautiful too – lovely weather, clean air, space, friendly.. It has it all. I felt immediately at peace and at rest. As one little person commented in the guestbook: ‘I a little bit want to stay here forever, and I a little bit miss my bedroom’! Perfect – I a little bit could have stayed forever and certainly hope to be back some day.
I arrived at 1450 with the intention of making a piece of work for the John Glover landscape prize, while allowing myself time for much needed rest and nourishment. I wanted to discover the specific nuances, and subtle, barely tangible visions that vibrate just beyond the surface of a place I was experiencing with fresh eyes. I wanted to see Mona, and absorb all it’s multi-dimensional depths. I wanted to see what arose from my spirit after a particularly challenging 2 years facing my own mortality. I was immediately welcomed by Victoria and Simon with great kindness, good food, stimulating conversation, and a space that freely allowed me the peace and gentleness for my musings to arise. For the first three days, I wandered the countryside, communing with the elements. I had profound visions of the abundant watery lagoons running with the blood of hundreds of generations of people who lived and swam with the tides, who were no longer anywhere to be found, but whose presence I could feel all around me. I searched out the language and stories of Nyunoni country. I was aware of the women who dived for oysters while their children played on the shore. I learnt about the whales that had once so densely occupied the bays. I saw the sadness in the eyes of the last captured thylacine, a profound metaphor for all the beauty and brutality and complexity of this special little isle of Avalon at the bottom of the world. And on my final day, ‘survival day’, I ventured into the landscape with Sarah to commune with, activate and record all the richness I felt in my time here. Sarah noted that it appeared as though I was releasing the blood from the water, and back into the ether. The experience imprinted precious and transcendent wonders on my consciousness.
We were lucky enough to spend the tail end of our Tasmania trip at All That We Are following the Australian Art Orchestra Creative Music Intensive in Tarraleah. This time, we took the opportunity to de-frag in the stunning, secluded location of Clifton Beach. Yet, with all the possibilities at 1450 to develop, rehearse and perform we’ll surely be back.
Simon and Victoria made us feel very welcome from the outset, like we had arrived home. On this particular evening that we came in from the airport, (that’s surprisingly close!) Simon and Victoria took us on a walk through their dense property to inspect the back burning they’d been at that day. The warmth of hot coals and crisp Tasmanian air against the backdrop of the dimming inlet took us in immediately.
That night we feasted on local fare and talked of many things. Like the artists who visit them, Simon and Victoria are passionate about the arts and actively engaged and interested in a multitude of projects, including the social justice arts projects of Scaret’s Fund.
The next morning we caught the sunrise on a morning pee break before falling pleasantly back asleep. After breakfast on the verandah looking out over the bay, Dan took advantage of the upright piano as Reuben and Emily joined him to play to our heart’s content. It is rare that accommodation is so close to the rehearsal space (next door!). The kitchen and bathroom facilities were also everything we needed.
Some hours past playing music together in the space before we headed into town (also ridiculously close) to eat fish and chips and drink whiskey (tough life!).
While we could only visit briefly on this occasion, All That We Are provided the perfect balance to retreat, create, collaborate and converse. Thanks to Simon and Victoria for the invitation to visit and take part in their arts practice residency program.
I was very fortunate to be able to bring Infinite Ape to 1450 in January. Simon and Victoria welcomed us into their space and hosted an incredible evening of food, performance and conversation. The property itself is remarkably beautiful, and the experience was made unforgettable by the warm interactions with our hosts, their friends and their neighbours. As an artist-run initiative, All That We Are offers amazing possibilities for creative residencies and artistic outreach. We hope to visit again soon!