Looking Up but feeling so down about my lost things that are so much more than objects
The isolated beach where I collect Ghost Nets with children, rangers and weavers are not only littered with Ghost Nets, but also rubbish from our Northerly Neighbours in Indonesia . This rubbish made the global nature of the issue unavoidable to consider, emphasising the importance of forming a creative partnership and beginning a woven dialogue with our closest International neighbours in Indonesia.
As both Australia and Indonesia have a strong material culture of weaving, basketry is the perfect language to commence this conversation about the shared rubbish that connects our shores. Therefore, in January, 2015, I participated in a weaving and cultural tour at Nusa Penida, an island south of Bali. We learnt the intricate process of making ceremonial baskets from bamboo and coconut leaves. Our teacher, master weaver Ibu Ketut, is an important person in the family and general community in Nusa Pineda. She makes the daly offerings, and when more elaborate offerings are required , she is often employed to make these complicated and beautiful creations as she’s one of the few people in the community with the skills to do so. Ibu Kutut asked , why we, as westerners would be interested in making offerings?
And why would we, a thankless and selfish culture that takes without thought or thanks, only giving back our discards in the form of rubbish, which is creating marine pollution to catastrophic proportions? Master weavers Pak Made Maku, Wayan Da and Wayan demonstrated the intricacies involved with weaving a fish trap from split bamboo. We then swam out past the sea-weed farm, out to the coral reef, where we placed our traps to watch our creations in action.
I never thought that my thesis question - Underwater Basket Weaving, would and could be interpreted so literally, but there I was, under the water, with my little fish trap watching coral fish swim in and out. I was inspired to interpret these new-found skills using plastic packing tape that I had collected years before, in coastal North Queensland, that had come off the barge shipping boats that are used to transport freight to remote parts of Northern Australia.
These new found skills of interpreting basketry skills with marine debris were shared in a workshop with the Northern Territory Australia Australian Art Educators Association upon my return then their work was exhibited at DVAA. The cycle of teaching, exhibiting sharing, effectively spreads the message. This demonstrates the effectiveness of art as environmental education on many levels.
Peter Scrivener, discusses how people extract information and essential knowledge from artifacts. He goes on to conclude that art objects made in Visual Arts research act as ‘a special kind of representation intended by a subject to inform an audience and an audience can recognize that it is intended to inform’ (Scrivner,2013, p28).Our objects woven from marine debris are the embodiment of vessels of knowledge, as they are often dysfunctional as useful objects, with their primary function being to ‘carry’ the story of the detriment of marine debris. These are significant cultural objects, responding to contemporary issues, such as environmental demise and the impact this has upon their culture and life, which is strongly affiliated with the sea and sea animals.