Abbotsford Convent gets ‘appropriately creepy’ in the dark.


The possibilities for updating this mythical figure are endless for Jones. Human indifference is evident in the increasing corporatization and pollution of space and, much closer to home, in the monastery’s 100-year history, during which many of the children in institutional care suffered. For them, according to the monastery’s website, it was “a place of distress and testing.”

Literally and figuratively, landscape is the subject of Jones’ work. “It’s incredibly important to understand the landscape of that particular place, the plants and creatures in it. We’re not just actors in it. We are part of the natural world.”

Shan Turner-Carrolls Arbeit <i>Edge of the Garden Bortford<i> (2020).” loading=”lazy” src=”$zoom_0.21%2C$multiply_0.7725%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0% 2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/43bc9cfcc4339bba93c3a7aef2e2ea89b72e8297″ height=”390″ width=”584″ srcset=”$zoom_0.21%2C$multiply_0.7725%2C$ ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/43bc9cfcc4339bba93c3a7aef2e2ea89b72e8297,$zoom_0.21%2C$multiply_1.545%2C$ratio_1 .5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/43bc9cfcc4339bba93c3a7aef2e2ea89b72e8297 2x”/></picture></div><figcaption class=

Shan Turner-Carroll’s work Edge of Bortford Garden (2020).Recognition:Me Richards

Jones uses natural phosphorus to light her astronaut suit. Similarly, fellow artist Megan Cope on commission uses an earth pigment that glows. Like a ring of tombstones, Copes renaturalization was built from half-buried Welsh slate recycled from the monastery’s roofs. The slate work, six meters across, is decorated with a single luminous line of cursive script and is read in three languages ​​(Woi Wurrung, Welsh and English): “May Bunjil keep you safe on Wurundjeri Country.” Mother Earth,” says the artist from Quandamooka (North Stradbroke Island, Queensland).

Cope is enthusiastic about the appropriateness of a nocturnal display: “There are many metaphors, stories and activities in Aboriginal cultures that take place only at night.”

Both Cope and Jones welcome the interspecies component of Alred’s exhibition. “It’s about the idea of ​​being connected to the earth, to plants, animals, but also other species – bacteria, fungi,” says Alred. “In both cases, it’s not us and the environment. We are the environment and the environment is us. We are connected. Concepts of kinship, guardianship and land viewed through the Australian First Nations lens revolve around connectedness. The artists present a range of visions and strategies for the future, as well as a different way of seeing and being in the world. We question the scientific revolution trying to dominate nature and redesign the earth as an object for human consumption.”

It’s only in the last few decades that scientists have realized that plants “communicate” with each other through mycelium, distributing and exchanging essential nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen as the plant needs them. While mycelium allows plants to communicate with each other, artist Dylan Martorell uses music to communicate with plants. Martorell’s sound art installation Sonaflora Drift Yarra (2019–22) creates a visual score by mapping the anatomical geometries of plants from the monastery’s Heritage Garden onto a scaled grid of pitches and durations. The plant-based melodies transcribe an interspecies interaction between humans and flora in the monastery habitat.


An ecological catastrophe threatens in Almagul Menlibayeva’s film Transoxiana Dreams. She, too, uses mythical elements to warn against the exploitation of the environment, while Zanny Begg’s Tales of Kannagi presents a 2000 year old Sri Lankan story about a young woman forced into exile by her husband’s misdeeds against a backdrop of colonisation, civil war, asylum seekers and imprisonment.

Despite all the night’s unleashing of mystical figures and hybrids lurking in unfamiliar corners of the monastery’s Gothic surroundings, Alred insists it “won’t frighten the children”. “Light and sound are magical things,” says Alred.

While the exhibition shares Dark Mofo Festival’s lighting designer, there’s no intention to make interspecies a White Night or Dark Mofo style festival. There are no flame towers or kleg lights.

“What we want to achieve is a set of subtly integrated artworks,” says Alred. “There are intimate and large-scale experiences. It’s about looking at this site as a whole living, breathing entity. Something that we can be a part of and that is a part of us.”

interspecies and other others is at Abbotsford MonasteryWednesday-Sunday, sunset to 10pm, August 26th – October 2nd.

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