We’re seeking Expressions of Interest from artists to participate in the Lovely Creatures group exhibition, running 11th March – 24th April 2023 at the Painted Tree Gallery in Northcliffe.
Exhibition curator, Saira Spencer, invites artists to respond to the exhibition concept by submitting an online Expression of Interest through this link here.
Artists are welcome to contact Saira to have a chat about any aspect of this document or the EOI process, via email or over-the-phone, prior to submission.
EOI Deadline: 11.59pm Friday 11th November 2022
0427 797 194
“Heathen, N. A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something he can see and feel”.
-Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1906
Lovely Creatures is a group exhibition that will explore the relationship between the senses, story and contemporary myth creation. It will invite both artists and viewers to consider the forests of Western Australia as an imaginarium; place of sacred reverie and as site for the Australian Gothic.
“An imaginarium is a place devoted to the imagination. There are various types of imaginaria, centres largely devoted to stimulating and cultivating the imagination, towards scientific, artistic, commercial, recreational, or spiritual ends”
The theme for this project was inspired by the panther and Thylacine urban legends of the South West and Great Southern Region (Wadandi Boodja, Pibelmun/Bibulmun Boodja and Menang Boodja).
Submissions are welcomed from any artist living in Western Australia who has a personal connection to forested environments, either in Australia or overseas.This includes, but is not limited to, artists who have moved away from an urban, arid or coastal environment to a forested area or those who have lived or grown-up amongst the forest, but then moved away, Indigenous artists and/or migrant artists.
We especially encourage emerging artists and artists who have not previously exhibited with the Painted Tree Gallery to apply.
Throughout the world, innumerable lives, both human and non-human, are inextricably linked to forests. The forests of South West WA alone support up-to 150,000 species and globally, many people and cultures have relied upon – or still rely upon – forested environments for food and resources, as a place of devotional sanctuary, or as anchorpoint for myth and story.
In contemporary non-indigenous Australia- appreciation for, and kinship with forests is a somewhat recent phenomena. Enlightenment thinking, a colonialist heirloom, has encouraged us to view nature “as a force to be controlled” and to reject reverence for nature in the name of scientific thought. Whilst philosophers of the time espoused the value of a life lived close to nature, it was and is still mostly regarded as a secular practice.
Comparatively, Australian First Nation peoples regard humans and native environment as being in partnership. For example, Dr Noel Nannup states that “Noongyar connection with nature and boodja (country) signifies a close relationship with spiritual beings associated with the land”.
Further afield, cultural practices have enshrined forests as revered, and spiritually restorative places. For example:
- In the Amhara province of Ethiopia, local communities have protected native forests that encircle Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches for hundreds of years because they consider them “miniature Garden of Edens” that prompt them to “look beyond what is visible”.
- Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka and Thailand pursue ancient Thervada “forest traditions”, kammaṭṭhāna (from Pali;, meaning “place of work”) where they seek-out and live within forests to aid in meditation.
- In Japan, Korea and China, Shinrin-yoku (forest-bathing) is an informal practice that was popularised in the 1980’s but has been practised for decades.
- Equivalent forest-bathing practices have also been established in Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
Many cultures also have beliefs about the forest. For example:
- Māori (NZ) folklore describes Tāne, God of the forest (Tāne-mahuta), using the forest’s trees to separate earth from sky to bring light into the world.
- The legendary Himavanta (Thai)/ Himmaphan (Burmese) Forest is central to many Hindu and Buddhist cosmological beliefs in the region.
- In Japan, the Aokigahara Forest is believed by many to be populated by Yūrei, human spirits who have been denied a peaceful afterlife.
As well as being a place of deep reverence and restoration, the forest is also a place that inspires through sensory provocation- what we feel, touch, see, smell, hear or breathe.
We see things that aren’t there, hear voices on the wind or are overcome with feelings that we aren’t alone.
To explain this phenomena and to contextualise our place within the forest, and places like it, we weave stories- stories that could be considered outlandish or marvellous, foreboding or scary.
Looking into a dense, unwalkable, shadowy forest can constellate our senses to inspire stories of non-benevolent beings. We believe there must be something in there; how could there not be?
Lovely Creatures invites artists to participate in this myth creation process by making artwork that draws upon personal and sensory experiences of the forest, by drawing upon the thematic prompts in this document and/or by reflecting upon the sensory roots of forest mythologies and story.
They are also invited to draw upon their own personal mythologies connected to the forest.
Artists are also particularly encouraged to consider how and why human beings sometimes centre themselves in myths about the forest:
For example, why are forest beings often described as human-like? And/or why are many creatures of folklore described as dangerous, cannibalistic or hostile to people?
- Balyit/Mummarri (Noongar) and Tata Duende (Mayan & Mestizo) are both described as small malicious hairy little men that kidnap children who misbehave.
- The Huldra/ Ulda (Sámi) (Scandinavia): a beautiful, woman-like creature with either an animal’s tail or a back shaped like a tree hollow.
- The Curupira (Brazil) & Bigfoot (USA): Hairy, humanoid creatures that are hostile to forest interlopers, especially hunters.
Also to consider: How/why myth-creation occurs in context to human action. For example:
- The ‘panthers’ (see readings) ,often ‘spotted’ throughout Australia, were apparently released into the bush by travelling circuses or American military servicemen 60-80 years ago. Populations supposedly survive until present day despite the average lifespan of a panther being 12-17 years.
- The last known Thylacine died in a Hobart Zoo in 1936 and its mainland relatives died-out around 3,200 years ago. The animal was officially declared extinct in 1986 due to hunting, introduced diseases and habitat destruction. However, many people insist that, despite these human-driven efforts, the tigers’ existence persists both in Tasmania and Nannup and sightings are frequently reported.
Artists are also invited to consider, and reflect upon, the beliefs and practices outlined in the Background section of the document, and consider how these beliefs may or may-not intersect with myth creation as described above.
Artists may choose to engage with the brief instinctively, and interpret it through their own practice, and/or use one, some or all of the following prompts as guidance:
1. Forest as imaginarium: a form, movement, symbol, etc. that is a portrayal of the manifestation of your sensory experience within the forest. That portrayal could be an invented ‘lovely creature’, and/or a depiction of an invented myth (invented by you, the artist). Artists are particularly encouraged to explore the phenomena of seeing, hearing or sensing things that aren’t ‘there’.
2. Forest as sensorium: an expression of the artists’ sensory experience of being in the forest and/or visually depict symbiosis with this experience. Specifically, the gently visceral, formative, curious or uneasy feelings.
3. Forest as sacred space: Artists are invited to reflect on what it means to consider the forest as a place of reverence.
4. Forest as a conduit for myth creation: Artists are invited to reflect on the forest as a source of story, mythology and shared history.
- They are particularly invited to incorporate visual allegory, metaphors and symbolism.
- Artists are also welcome to extrapolate on their personal experiences of myth invention or storytelling and the forest. For example- works referring to telling their own children about imaginary forest monsters, or growing up hearing ‘tall tales’ from someone in their family or community.
INFORMATION FOR ARTISTS
Up to 12 artworks will be considered for exhibition.
Applicants are encouraged to approach the EOI with works that are currently in development and/or works artworks still being conceived.
Any 2D, 3D and/or audio artwork will be considered. This includes, but is not limited to: painting, prints, drawing, papercraft, sculpture, ceramics, jewellery, woodwork, videography or photography.
Large scale works are encouraged, but 2D works larger than 1.5m2 may not be accepted due to limitations to wall space.
EOIs are accepted from artists at all career levels. Emerging artists and collaborative projects are especially encouraged. Southern Forest Arts welcomes applications from artists of intergenerational, culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, First Nations peoples, LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals and people with a lived experience of disability.
The Painted Tree Gallery is located within the Northcliffe & Visitor Centre. Information about the gallery is available here.
Southern Forest Arts retains the right to invite individual artists to create an artwork for the exhibition outside the EOI process, if required.
Artists are responsible for insuring their artwork during development, transit and throughout the exhibition. Whilst all care will be taken in handling and exhibiting of artworks, Southern Forest Arts takes no responsibility for damage or misadventure incurred.
Artists must coordinate delivery to and from the gallery. Transportation and shipping costs are to be incurred by the artist. Special accommodations may be arranged for artists with disabilities who are unable to ship or deliver works to site.
Work can be made available for sale, but is not compulsory.
Artists are encouraged to contact Saira Spencer for support and/or clarification on the EOI document.
- As part of Lovely Creatures, artists are invited to submit a work for temporary installation into the renowned Understory Art & Nature Trail. Please note, that visitors to the Painted Tree Gallery will need to pay admission to see artworks along the Trail.
- Artists are also invited to produce work that interacts with the gallery space. The Painted Tree Gallery contains both fixed and tracked gallery-lighting systems as well as multiple external windows that allow for natural light. Artists are encouraged to look at photos of previous exhibitions, or visit the gallery if they choose to create work that responds to the space.
Collaboration between artists, and artforms is encouraged.
ACCESSIBILITY & INCLUSION
Given the sensory component of this exhibition theme, artists are encouraged to produce artworks that are sensory-rich experiences; either visually, aurally or through touch.
In all artworks we ask the artist to consider the experience of those with complex sensory experiences (such as hearing or sight impairment, neurodivergence or otherwise).
Artists participating in Lovely Creatures will be supported in the following ways:
- Access to curator, Saira Spencer, to support the development of work
- Consultation during the EOI process.
- Curated installation of artworks
- Social media marketing for exhibition and inclusion in monthly newsletter
- Artwork sales handling (please note, a commission of 30%, including GST will apply)
AVAILABLE EQUIPMENT & FIXTURES
- 2 x walls suitable for pinning work
- 2 x 800mmsquare x 20mm high
- 2 x 400mm square x 400mm high
- 1 x 400mm square x 800mm high
- 2 x 500mm square x 800mm high,
- 2 x 400mm square x 1200mm high
- 2 x 700mm hexagonal x 800mm high
- 1 x 590mm hexagonal x 1200mm high
- Hanging system (100+ hooks and steel droppers)
- 35 m of wall space for hanging/displaying artworks
- 7m of window space
- AV Equipment: Mobile wall with embedded smart screen and computer.
- PA: Bluetooth speaker
- Access to power & wifi
EOIs will be assessed by:
- Saira Spencer (Curator)
- Fiona Sinclair (Artistic Director/ General Manager of Southern Forest Arts)
EOIs will be evaluated using the following criteria:
- Relevance to brief.
- Quality of the proposal in terms of strength of concept. Specifically: evidence of vision, originality, creativity, experimentation, innovation and inquisitiveness.
- Clear articulation of concept.
- Calibre of the applicant as evidenced by their relevant experience and in the quality of their previous work.
- Suitability and viability of the artist’s proposed approach to the brief and their capacity to professionally manage and deliver the project. This may include:
- Realistic and achievable planning and resource needs.
- Relevance and timeliness of proposed activity.
- Role of any partners, including confirmation of involvement.
- Where necessary:
- Evidence of considered consultation and engagement with proposed partners, participants,audiences and communities.
- Adherence to relevant cultural protocols
- Contribution to diverse cultural expression.
- Level of deliverable benefits for community audiences and participants.
- Increased and diversified participation in arts and culture, particularly among diverse cultural groups.
All selection decisions are final. Conversations about selection will not be entered into.
- 14th October EOI advertised
- 10th November EOI Deadline
- 11th November Artwork selection
- 14th November Shortlisted artists & unsuccessful artists notified of outcome
- Late November Initial briefing sessions for shortlisted artists
- Dec 2022-Feb 2023 Creative development and production of artworks (Inc. ongoing consultation with curator)
- 8th March Delivery and receipt of artwork at Painted Tree Gallery
- 11th March Exhibition opening event
- 24th March (date TBC) Exhibition is disassembled, unsold artworks collected.
- There is no cost to submit an EOI or participate in the exhibition.
- There is no cost to exhibit artwork for Lovely Creatures.
- Artwork transportation costs are to be incurred by the artist.
- Artists will not be paid an exhibition loan fee for artworks selected for exhibition
Artists are encouraged to actively engage with the forest in researching and developing their work. Go visit some trees!
Playful irreverence in themes and subject matter is encouraged.
Whilst many examples of existing mythologies have been mentioned in this brief, artists are strongly urged to refer to their own invented or personal mythologies in their work rather than referring to existing ones, especially those they do not have a personal or cultural connection to. Artists are welcome to contact the curator if they have any concerns about their concept.
Artists are welcome to contact the curator prior to EOI submission if they are concerned about their proposed concept or idea.
- Myth – a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events
- Qualia – individual instances of subjective, conscious experience a quality or property as perceived or experienced by a person
- Reverence – deep respect for someone or something
- Reverie – a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream
- Sensory – relating to sensation or the physical senses; transmitted or perceived by the senses
FURTHER READINGS AND REFERENCES
Aboriginal belief systems:
Dr Noel Nannup on Nyungar Spirituality http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-k3WGOar_4
Noongyar Spirituality Spirituality | Kaartdijin Noongar (noongarculture.org.au)
Forest bathing & Spiritual Practices
Health benefits of forests:
Enlightenment period and Nature
Forest mythologies and folklore:
Aokigahara Forest Aokigahara – Wikipedia
Bulyit/Mimmara Bulyits | Kaartdijin Noongar (noongarculture.org.au)
Curupira Curupira – Wikipedia
Himanvanta Forest Himavanta – Wikipedia
Hulder/Hulda Hulder – Wikipedia
Tata Duende Tata Duende – Wikipedia
Panther & Thylacine ‘sightings’:
SUBMIT YOUR EOI
Submit your online Expression of Interest through this link here.