Works / Mildura Palimpsest # 1-4, 1998-2004 / Mildura Palimpsest # 2: "Future Histories - A Memoryscape"

Mildura Palimpsest # 2:

Mildura Palimpsest # 2: "Future Histories - A Memoryscape"  1999

Digital inkjet print

130mm x 360mm

Detail of wall intstallation, Mildura Regional Art Gallery

Mildura Palimpsest (Now called Murray Darling Palimpsest) engages Australian and International artists on issues of environment and landscape.

palimpsest: 1; Paper, parchment, etc., prepared for writing on and wiping out, like a slate.
2; G.Orwell: “All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and re-inscribed exactly as often as was necessary”. (NSO Oxford dictionary)

Garden Story Trilogy 1998 – 2000 (Stage 3 completed in 2004)

Apropos the notion of Palimpsest as a re-inscription of the Australian landscape since European settlement, I wanted to talk about the effects of replacement, and so began Garden Story.

This three part series commemorates the original inhabitants of the region; the Latje Latje people, and the flora and fauna of the country of the Murray Mallee region of Northern Victoria. 
 I made a 9m x 3m incision into the verdant lawns of the now named Mildura Arts Centre where, in 1891 W B Chaffey built his home, Rio Vista (river view), erasing all native flora to create his homeland-memory garden, consisting entirely of introduced European species.

Into the deep red ochre of the incision I formed a mound and planted two local grass species which, in the harsh environment of the northern desert provide top soil preservation and fauna habitat.  The gallery installation consisted of ochre directly applied to the walls over the original garden design, and inscribed was text from four different ‘stories of country’ including accounts of the pristine condition of the land in 1830, from cartographer and explorer John Arrowsmith; the importance of the plant species by Rene Mitchell, a Barkindji elder; stories from a family elder about growing up in the new gardens of Rio Vista; and descriptions of the archaeology of the site by Mark Dugay-Grist, then chairperson of the North West Clans. 
This work was recreated for inclusion in the collection of the Mildura Art Gallery. 

Garden Story ll speaks on the matter of early governments’ uninformed water policies (read Lindsay Tanner's book 'Open Australia' - published by Pluto Press 1999).
 Future Histories: A Memoryscape includes the digitally constructed landscape with ‘memory mounds’: tumulii which contain histories of lost species due to salination and land degradation

Garden Story lll Mapping Silence/Marking Time involved the restoration of the previously neglected burial site of the pioneering Chaffey women and children. The project includes the establishment of a Commemorative Garden honoring the women of the Murray Mallee region.
 Using local floodplain species I revivified the space and created a place for contemplation, including an ‘observation seat’ and sculpture amidst the now established planting of the local Casuarina christata which, when the wind blows, adds a sound component to the site; Acacia stenophylla and Eu.largiflorens.

The site is situated on the River Murray on the outskirts of town in Cureton Avenue, Mildura.

This project was partly funded by the Regional Development fund of the Australia Council and Arts Victoria, Mildura Rural City Council, The Mildura Grand Hotel, Tasco Inland Australia and other sponsorship. It has won two awards and is to be included in the Chaffey Trail, which follows several sites of historical significance pertaining to the establishment of the irrigation settlement of the region around Mildura and Wentworth.