Vanishing Food Bowls (detail), 2013 artwork and photo Jill Sampson

Vanishing Food Bowls & Mending the Future

Vanishing Food Bowls and Mending the Future were developed from the 2012 and 2013 artist residencies at the Bimblebox Nature Refuge. The first iteration of Vanishing Food Bowls was shown at the Document://Bimblebox exhibition, Launceston, Tasmania, April, 2013. A further developed, final iteration of Vanishing Food Bowls along with Mending the Future toured nationally with Bimblebox: art – science – nature, 2014 – 2017.

Vanishing Food Bowls, 2013 above photos by Carl Warner and Jill Sampson

Vanishing Food Bowls

Mixed media installation: wire, silk, thread, paper, wool, wood, plastic, steel, insulation
600 x 1530 x 1060mm

With open cut mining the land is changed completely and forever. It’s history, stories, meaning, ability to re-grow and to heal itself, to provide food, nurture and create life are all utterly destroyed. No more can we read the patterns of many thousands of years of evolution, lived lives, water memories or layers of earth history.

In Vanishing Food Bowls I am exploring an intricate web of life between Bimblebox Nature Refuge in the Galilee Basin with its watershed into the Belyando then Burdekin River and its connection with The Great Barrier Reef. This is a connection that is thousands of years in the making.  

On Bimblebox Nature Refuge there are trees that could possibly be dated at over 300 years and on the Great Barrier Reef, coral dated over 400 years old. The coral grows on a reef bed thousands of years old.  Every flood year silt is washed from the land into the ocean waters and these flood events are recorded in the growth bands that are laid down by the slow growing coral. In long living corals these bands of growth, called coral luminescence, give us a weather record that pre-dates written records in Australia.  

The luminescence bands made by silt from long ago floods tell us what the patterns of La Nina and El Nino have been. These traces of time can also help to date trees on  Bimblebox because the coral and the trees experience, benefit and suffer through the same patterns of drought and flood.

The Great Barrier Reef and Bimblebox Nature Refuge (in fact the whole Galilee Basin) are bound together.  A future for one is bound to the ability to survive and to have a possible future with the other. To lose the nature refuge to a coal mine will not only destroy carbon storing trees and habitat, it will also change the watershed onto the reef. While the burning of coal once buried under Bimblebox  increases the rate of global warming, leading to cooking and killing the reef.

Vanishing Food Bowls, 2013, Jill Sampson, photo Carl Warner

Mending the Future (detail), 2013, Jill Sampson, photos Carl Warner.

Mending the Future

Mixed media installation: wool, silk, cotton, native grasses, spear grass, bone
2190 x 2320 x 1350mm

These blankets that create the skin or surface of this piece had been discarded. Their history is unknown.  However each blanket started out as wool on an Australian sheep in a time when we valued Australian agriculture and manufacture.

I have taken these blankets back out to the bush and imprinted Bimblebox into them. I have stitched and mended these threadbare blankets into another skin, an ancient cloak, a landscape.  While the grass figures are messengers, strange birds or whirly whirlys. They are our conscience, our biological and cultural memory.

This is my attempt to mend and heal the land we have changed and continue to change.  Bimblebox would still be recognisable to the First Australians, however coal mining wants to rip away the skin of this land, take its memory and destroy its future.  If this skin is ripped away nothing can live here.

Mending the Future, 2013, Jill Sampson, photo Carl Warner