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ephemeral (lessons in grief)
@ Shoalhaven Regional Gallery, Nowra, NSW

In 1942 Rachel Carson, in the forward of her first book Under the Sea-Wind, wrote this about natures cycles: “these things (these cycles) were before ever man stood on the shore of the ocean and looked out upon it with wonder; they continue year in year out, through centuries and ages, while man’s kingdoms rise and fall”. When Carson wrote this, 20 years ahead of Silent Spring (for which she is justly famous) I imagine one could have had no other sense than that the nature we have coevolved with would outlive human civilisation. But less than 80 years on, this is no longer the case. Our poor custodianship of our planet and its habitats has ended many such cycles …and we must face that they are forever lost.

Somehow on reading this quote a few months ago, glaring in its contrast to the reality of our current ecological human-created crises I was hurled into a particularly turgid depression. I found myself immobilised, not sure how to have a life that would not be complicit in its damaging impact – I, like each of us, have become used to the way we live - our comfort, our conveniences, our disconnection from our finite-ness…

I sank, sensing no way forward until I encountered the work of Canadian, Stephen Jenkinson. His work on grief and other critical issues is beautiful, lucid and rather challenging. For me it was one quote that changed everything: he suggests ‘We do not require hope to proceed. We required grief to proceed’. After quite a few days of processing this idea following a lifetime of being grief illiterate (as Mr Jenkinson terms it) I suddenly 'got it' -- like an instant download … I found that yes in grief I can proceed, and I find that in grief I am enabled… I would never have guessed?

For many years I have been making the type of ephemeral works you see in the photographs included in this exhibition (and included in my book ephemeral see about book HERE) and it is the endings of these works as they dissipate, as they return to the cycle of becoming something else that is as much part of the artwork as the choreography and the making. Once I was equipped with the eyes of grief I came to realise that these ephemeral works are each in fact ‘lessons in grief‘ lessons in endings and finite-ness, hence the title of the exhibition.

Since embracing grief – becoming more grief literate, I find everything that much more luminous and life-filled than before. Yes, I can find myself walking around with tears in my eyes and a knot in my belly but these very things inform every cell of my being of that which I love.

This exhibition was about that…

You can view the tiny booklet that I produced for the exhibiton HERE

image details at bottom of page:

sleeping leaves (detail)


sleeping leaves

sleeping leaves



the floor

Image details


inbetween, found sticks, cotton thread, recycled wood, paint, 110 x 100 x 4 cm

spreadfound sticks, enamelled copper wire, acrylic, metalheight & depth dependent on ceiling height,  width 150 cm

sleeping leaves, (tears for lost trees), found leaves, linen, cotton thread, pins, 13 x 575 x 4 cm

return : wire briush, spent wire brush, found twigs, recycled wood from chairback, acrylic, MDF, paint, 60 x 100 x 15 cm


beached seeweed floats arranged around low tide rock, hanumule paper, 44 x 46 cm

fallen red eucalyptus leaves arranged in dark after-rain pool with reflections, hanumule paper,  44 x 46 cm

fallen crushed mulga-wattle flowers arranged on pebble in dry creek bed, hanumule paper,  32 x 60 cm

fallen tea tree flower petals arranged in circle around tiny pool, hanumule paper, 33 x 60 cm

fallen gum flowers arranged in crevice of rock, hanumule paper, 33 x 60 cm

fallen red eucalyptus leaves arranged in sand next to river edge, hanumule paper, 33 x 60 cm

fallen baronia flower arranged in indent of rock, hanumule paper, 33 x 60 cm

fallen eucalyptus leaves arranged on recently exposed rock at river edge, hanumule paper, 33 x 60 cm


stick voices (mix 3), 2 channel audio, 20min 45 sec. produced by Brent Williams


Thanks to Bronwyn Coulston for offering me this solo exhibition opportunity and for supporting me in taking it into a exhibition about grief.