2013 | Sticks in my Mind

The installation and gallery work originated with the story below:

The Bussell family of Cattlechosen (just one among several other prominent Bussell homesteads in the South West), came to Western Australia in 1830. They came to make a new life, a new start following the death of their father. First settling in Augusta, and then to the now famous Cattlechosen, a property 'discovered' by John Bussell: curiously named for a long truant cow Yulika and her calf, who quite independently discovered the property appearing out of the bush one morning. The word 'discovered' is the foundation of this story: The land wasn't lost or in need of finding, it was already occupied and had been for thousands of years. Cattlechosen incidentally had a perfectly good name already Yundorup. However, the signs of occupation weren't visible to the Bussells (or the colonists in general) and although treating the Noongar occupants with benevolence, their (the Bussell family in general) attitude and choice of words were at best ethnocentric and paternalistic.

While I don't wish to dwell on the negatives of this time, without conscious consideration of the words of the past it is difficult to move to a more positive (Australian) future.

sticks in my mind, both the ephemeral and gallery installations, explore the power of words and our use of language. I believe positive language is fundamental to the vitality and holistic health of any community. Further, those individual words create impressions, images and expectations, have the ability to influence how we think and to transform lives and the world we live in.

The installations both use 184 words and peppermint tree branches striped of their bark. The words, taken from documents and diaries of the time, are representative of words used both during this era and some still today and the quantity represents the number of years since colonisation. Peppermint Tree wood was chosen as a material because of its use by both Wardandi women (for digging sticks) as well as a building material by the colonists.