Wednesday 21 October 2015

Soon to sea again...

I will soon be departing once more on the cray boat, Climax for another salty adventure. This time the boys are heading Port Davey way on the wild west coast of Tasmania. 

We have 60,000 undersize crays to catch and translocate as part of a IMAS/DPIPWE initiative (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment). Crays are targeted in areas where there are high numbers and subsequently high competition for food, keeping their size and growth rates restricted. Undersize specimens are caught and translocated into less populated areas, with the expectation that their growth rates will increase, and that competition will be decreased in the original sites, making for more size specimens in both areas. I will be assisting in tagging, measuring and recording the specimens we catch and re-locate, as well as my normal journal based drawing activities and general observation of all that is to be seen! 

Port Davey is renowned as one of Tasmania's relatively hidden and inaccessible gems in the south-west, World Heritage area. Generally it is accessible only by boat, on foot (a four day+ hike) or by flying into Melaleuca and walking out to the coast. I am super excited about my pending trip, seeing this part of Tasmania has been on my wish list since first walking up to the boat and asking the skipper if he'd consider taking me out (along with most other destinations - let's be honest!). 

I'll soon be receiving my very own pair of white deckies boots, a flash Stormy Seas jacket and overalls - will be tramping those all around Victoria dock, trying to look the part. I might need to dirty them up a bit, so I don't look like a complete newbie!!

For those of you who didn't get a chance to visit Hobart and see my recent exhibition Speaking together in silence at Entrepot Gallery at the Centre for the Arts, you can see some images of the install below. You can also have a small taste of one of the video works via a link to vimeo, click here.

The exhibition incorporated drawings, journals, artist books and video projection with sound, interacting with the drawings. My artist statement can be read below the following images. A big thanks to Lucy Parakhina for the wonderful documentation of my show, you can see more of Lucy's work here.

All exhibition images courtesy of Lucy Parakhina

Speaking together in silence…
an artist’s journey on a cray boat in Tasmania

“In this breathless pause at the threshold of a long passage we seemed to be measuring our fitness for a long and arduous enterprise, the appointed task of both our existences to be carried out, far from all human eyes, with only sky and sea for spectators and for judges.”[1]

This work has come about after taking two trips to sea on board a professional cray boat as part of my PhD studies at the Tasmanian College of the Arts. My research project is investigating how I use drawing as the primary means of encountering and articulating place and space. Observational drawing is an important component of my practice, which regularly involves working directly in the field. From this first hand and embodied experience of being in place I gather by drawing. This recording of what I am both seeing and thinking is played out in my journals. My journals and this particular process of collecting are the central focus of my project, as I am most interested in the ‘doing’ aspect of the search, a drawing out from the world.   

Leaving from Victoria dock, which lies adjacent to the Entrepot Gallery I embarked on two adventures into the unknown with drawing becoming a key means by which I negotiated and began to articulate my journey. This was not only a physical journey into unfamiliar geographies, but also a personal and emotional journey into the ways in which we deal with the uncertainty and instability of being.

My observances of the skipper and deckhands at work offered a parallel way of thinking about how we come to know ourselves and our place in the world through embodied experience. Their daily activities of cray fishing utilize first hand ‘body knowledge’ gained through years spent at sea, negotiating the ever changing maritime environment. This working knowledge is combined with the use of drawing based technologies such as 3D mapping software, a GPS plotter and an echo sounder to assist with “shooting” pots for gathering their prized catch.

The inclusion of moving image and sound is a new addition to my usual analogue gathering process. I am interested in how the analogue and digital can come into conversation with each other through installation. This conversation helps me to better make sense of my world and my place within it.

Annalise Rees
September 2015

[1] Conrad, J 1995, The secret sharer: an episode from the coast, Penguin, London. p. 2

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