You were perfect 2, 3 & 4
Tawny Frogmouth Skulls and beak 2019, Jill Sampson

Permanence/Impermanence, 2019

Permanence, Impermanence, Value and Loss.

“I‘m drawn to the paradox of permanence and impermanence – the place where the monumentalisation of something implies the loss of another.” Sculptor Ledelle Moe

This body of work is in part honouring elements of the natural world while considering ideas of value and loss during the Anthropocene.  My work explores permanence, impermanence and questions of value over the vital ecosystems of Earth.  

Each of these sculpted objects are related to or have been placed amongst items that form integral elements of the ecosystem.  

Which has the highest value in our society? 

The elements of nature or the hand made bronze pieces?  

By replacing elements of these natural objects with bronze I am disrupting their impermanence.  The bones, shells and seeds would (if left in the natural environment), disintegrate relatively quickly while the inserted bronze pieces would corrode slowly leaving mineral traces in the archaeological record. Of course the seeds, left in a conducive environment may germinate and grow. By collecting them I am also disrupting this natural system. 

The emotional impact of the damage and destruction of a rapidly changing  environment leans into my everyday.  My work delves into this pain while participating in a kind of memorialisation.  In this time of the Anthropocene, we humans are endlessly hungry and everywhere this insatiable hunger is strewn with loss. Yet by using bronze, a mined mineral, and making something that is not needed I, in turn, participate in this unsustainable culture.

Within the context of climate change, land clearing, collapsing ecosystems and species extinction I experience solastalgia.  As an artist working in this environment, seeking to understand, bear witness and make cultural comment, I see the rapid change and feel a sense of immense loss.  I am looking for a way to respond, work through and create artwork that acknowledges the profound ecological grief many of us are experiencing.  Mending, memory traces and memorialisation are ways that my work approaches this grief.

Permanence and impermanence are on a biological time spiral.  Without human disruption the seeds, sea shells and Tawny Frogmouths would continue to be present through countless generations, well beyond any timelines that humans can imagine.  Yet population pressures, consumerism, plastics, fossil fuels and development/deforestation destroys dynamic, living biological systems.  

Through human endeavours to create permanence we are manifesting impermanence and loss for the eco-systems that our very lives depend upon.    

Washed up
Collected shells, sand; bronze (lost wax casting, hand sculpted in wax)
12 x 16cm (dimensions variable)
Photo Jill Sampson

Bat’s Wing Coral Tree (Erythrina numerosa) seeds; bronze (lost wax casting, hand sculpted in wax)
12 x 15cm (dimensions variable)
Photo Jill Sampson

You were perfect 1
Tawny Frogmouth skeleton: bronze (lost wax casting, hand sculpted in wax)
18 x 15cm (dimensions variable)
Photo Jill Sampson

You were perfect 2, 3 & 4
Tawny Frogmouth Skulls and beak
Bronze (lost wax casting, all hand sculpted in wax)
Skull 1, 3 x 4.2 x 5.5cm
Skull 2, 3.1 x 3.5 x 5.3cm
Beak, 2 x 4.5 x 5.8cm
Photo Jill Sampson

You were perfect

Outside my house I found the most perfect and healthy looking Tawny Frogmouth.

Sadly, it was dead. 

As there was no evident physical damage I surmised it had been poisoned by eating something that had itself ingested poison laid out by a neighbour. I lay it’s body in my garden. 

A year or so later I found it’s bones while gardening. I hand modelled in wax it’s skull, beak and some bones, then cast them in bronze using the lost wax casting process. The sculptured bronze pieces are an attempt to imbue human value, memorialise and create a kind of permanence for this creature. Through this work I will continue to remember the beautiful bird I would hear calling at night and its shadowy shape that I sometimes glimpsed sweep across the sky.