The land that we are working and playing on for this residency is the traditional home of the Dabee tribe, of the Wiradjuri people and we acknowledge that this land was never ceded.
The initial objective for our first residency was to look at the idea of phytoremediation or ’restoring balance through plants’.
Plant species such as Indian Mustard are hyperaccumulators, which can draw up heavy metals from the soil. This process could act as a symbolic countermeasure to the grief and anxiety induced by environmental damage. It is the transformative processes of gardening and phytoremediation that we are interested in. We are attracted to these processes as acts of wider cultural healing as much as the practical beneficial outcomes.
We are still interested in phytoremediation, but after many bike rides around town in search of sites, we ended up falling in love with an uncultivated field in the middle of a bunch of houses next to a church and it encouraged a different direction.
The field reminded us of an artwork by American artist John Knight. The work is essentially a large circular garden bed in front of the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, which is no longer tended and is left to it’s own devices. The title of the work, The Right to be Lazy, draws it’s name from an essay published in 1883 by Karl Marx’s son-in-law, Paul Lafargue. In the essay he argues heavily against conservative, religious and even socialist ideas of work, instead championing laziness and creativity as being the most important catalysts for human progress.
We have always been attracted to laziness and disheartened by the popular assertion that productivity is the way to measure a successful life. In our next residency period we will be looking at cultivated and uncultivated garden spaces while taking into account; the way human needs and aesthetics have been centred in the garden ecosystem, the ethics of designing/art making with living entities, the practice of inserting objects into gardens which can become artefacts, the magic of soil and the underworld, different scales of time and the idea that some plants are useful/good/beautiful and others are weeds/bad.
As well as finding a place to make work, there was also lots of great spots to be found for playing. Some very kind and generous locals took us up to a rocky outlook above the town and we found an incredible abandoned park that would have been perfect for our Out of Bounds work. The town itself feels a little lost in time and there are lots of ‘edges’ and places that are not quite formed or specified.
When we came back to Kandos for our second residency, Summer had arrived and the field felt completely different. The grass was high and dense and our first explorations were very tentative as we imagined maximum snakes. A persistent smell turned out to be a dead sheep, which we buried with much effort in the rocky soil and many hours were spent lying down exploring micro landscapes and uncommon perspectives.