Our current exhibition explores fantasies of reverence and the forest as imaginarium. Curated by emerging curator, Saira E. K. Spencer the show features 14 visual artist and 1 poet from across WA.
The exhibition opened on Saturday March 11th and will run until Sunday 14th May.
Investigating the relationship between the senses, story and contemporary myth creation, the show invites both artists and viewers to consider the forests of Western Australia as a 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).
- HEIDI BAILE (Busselton)
- SU BERGHUIS-GARDE (Bridgetown)
- CASSANDRA BYNDER (Busselton)
- MELISSA DAW (Albany)
- RAE GOOCH (Perth)
- ALANA GRANT (Mandurah)
- NAOMIE HATHERLEY (Broome)
- VANESSA LOMBARDO (Mt Lawley)
- BARBARA MAUMILL (Palgarup)
- JANINE McCRUM (Denmark)
- KIMBERLY ROSE JONES (Mt Barker)
- SAIRA E.K. SPENCER (Kentdale)
- FRAN SULLIVAN RHODES (Mandurah)
- JESSICA VAGG (White Gum Valley)
- JOIE VILLENEUVE (Wembley)
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”.
Saira E.K Spencer created an inspiring curatorial brief for the exhibition that asked the artists to consider the forest not only as a place of deep reverence and restoration, but 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?