I was fortunate enough today to travel with Maicie to her Grandfathers country along with the the Animdilyakwa Sea Rangers for their annual Groote Eylandt Beach Clean Up.
Ute loads of marine debris were collected on a small stretch of remote beach by 105 community members who join the rangers for the second big beach annual clean up called Clean Up Groote Eylandt Day .
The tonnes of rubbish were taken back to the rangers station in Alyangula . On the monday a group of us from Animdilyakwa Arts joined the rangers at the station for the monumental task of sorting through the rubbish took 13 of us over two days to sort through it all. Overall, we counted-
- 4,673 plastic bottle tops
- 2,759 plastic bottles
- 883 thongs (406 left, 397 right + spare parts)
- 527 plastic cigarette lighters
- 405 floats
- 251 squid jigs
- 119 glass bottles
- 118 tooth brushes
- 55 rolls of tape
- 47 metal containers/gas bottles
- 4 ute loads of ghost nets and rope
Ranger Tom Lawton said
“the volunteers felt a great sense of achievement after seeing the large amount of rubbish collected.The attitude was positive, but there is always that mixed emotion where you see people really starting to think about the harsh reality of marine debris and ocean plastics,’ he said.
‘If a group of 105 volunteers can collect that much rubbish in under 2 hours on 6 km of coastline, how much rubbish is there in the ocean and along the rest of the east Arnhem coastline?’
Ocean plastics entrap and maim or even drown sea life .
Maicie and i are inspired to take some of this rubbish and weave it into sea creatures so that the story of this problem can be carried out into the world . Maicie is making another ‘Monster Fish’ . I am making a series of Jellyfish from ghost net and fishing-line . These works will be exhibited in France next year.
An unexpected find for me was a peculiar looking and rather large skull. Ranger Dan had suspicions it may be a killer whale . I was given permission from the Tradional owner of the land where i found the skull to keep it . I took it home and my Friend Carol , Who is a marine mammal expert , confirmed it is a baby false killer whale skull.
I will weave a body for the beautiful creature, so that she can sing again and so i may weave the tragic tale of sea life in the plastic age .
Whilst in Jakarta Maicie Annabel and I met with two wonderful artists from Jakarta, Tita Salina and her partner Irwan Ahmett . Tita Salina’s work, 1001st island – the most sustainable island in archipelago 2015 explores issues of community disenfranchisement, environmental pollution and government corruption as they manifest within the Indonesian government’s grand plan for the restoration and redevelopment of Jakarta Bay.
Jakarta Bay is e impacted by extreme pollution, the reduction of important fishing stocks, and rapid land sinkage due to groundwater extraction that provides drinking water for Jakarta’s 10 million inhabitants. Combined with the threat of rising sea levels, these problems jeopardise communities of small-scale fishermen and coastal traders who live on and around the bay. The government’s solution to the complex environmental and social issues is to build a giant sea wall across the bay to transform it into a man-made lagoon protected from flooding, populate it with new artificial islands, and redevelop the foreshore areas, moving existing coastal communities outside the city precincts. Many are sceptical about the efficacy of the plan and criticise it as scientifically dubious, socially discriminatory and financially irresponsible.
To create 1001st island, Salina collaborated with local fishermen from one of the threatened communities to collect some of the plastic rubbish that plagues the bay. Wrapped in a fishing net to construct an artificial island, it was then dragged behind a fishing boat into the bay and released to become the 1001st island in the chain of islands north of Jakarta known as the Thousand Islands.
The most urgent problems are in North Jakarta, a coastal mash-up of ports, nautically themed high-rises, aged fish markets, abject slums, power plants, giant air-conditioned malls and the congested remnants of the colonial Dutch settlement, with its decrepit squares and streets of crumbling warehouses and dusty museums.
Some of the world’s most polluted canals and rivers weave a spider’s web through the area.
It is where the city is sinking fastest.
That’s because, after decades of reckless growth and negligent leadership Jakarta’s problems have acumulated.
Tita told me that many believe that Atlantis is near Jakarta, so perhaps the city is preparing to meet her sister.
In an article in the Guardian this week.Greenpeace calls for global action over nets, lines and traps that are deadly for marine life .
“The world’s governments must take action to protect our global oceans, and hold the under-regulated fishing industry to account for its dangerous waste. This should start with a strong global ocean treaty being agreed at the United Nations next year.” Greenpeace, 2019
This is aptly timed, as I find myself in Indonesia on an Asialink Arts Residencry with Annabel Amagula and Maicie Lalara from Anindilyakwa Arts on Groote Eylandt with Kominatas Salihara, an International multidisciplinary arts center in Indonesia.
Before leaving for Indonesia Maicie Lalara finished weaving a large ‘monster fish’ from a ghost net retrieved from the sea near Groote Eylandt by the ferry driver.
This net was nicknamed a ‘Monster Net’ by the Northern Territory News.
Rangers believe the net may have come all the way from South-East Asia. The Fish, titled, Yilkwa, is covered in marine debris, including lighters and bottle tops, recently collected by a beach cleanup facilitated by the Anindilyakwa Land and Sea Rangers this month. Over 100 people from the Groote Eylandt Community worked together to collect over 2000 plastic bottle tops, 604 plastic cigarette lighters, 511 thongs, 130 tooth brushes and 1295 plastic bottles.
As artists in residence we are working to make new ghost net into artworks, including sculptural animals, to weave the story of the impact that these nets, that often come from Indonesia, has upon their coastal community and marine life.
Annabel Amagula says-“ We are making crabs, turtles , fish baskets. My granddaughter is making that mini monster fish, that’s why its impotant we share our story and culture with Indonesian People”
Anindilyakwa Arts is proudly funded by the Anindilyakwa Land Council. The Art Residency is kindly supported by Melbourne University and Arts NT.
As a recipient of a Melbourne University Asialink Grant, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be a resident artist at Kominatus Salihara in Jakarta. My travels started with a stop on the way at the Threads of Life dye garden and studio to learn traditional Indonesian Batik and plant dying techniques in the Soul of Batik workshop exploring Indonesia’s batik tradition with respected International Batik artists Agus Ismoyo and Nia Fliam from Brahma Tirta Sari studios in Yogjakarta . The Soul of Batik Workshop involved exploring both the processes of natural dyeing and batik .
I had a wonderful few days submerged in dye baths of indigo and mangrove root and only burnt myself a little bit with hot wax starting new projects on paper and fabric to work on in Jakarta.
Upon my arrival at Kominatus, I was warmly welcomed by Enning, Rebecca and Selma and couldn’t help but feel like Iwas in the right place at the right time, with the opportunity to see the incredible puppet production- Aquavitae: The Sea Dog, by the French Theatre company , Teater Boneka.
A spectacular plea from the sea, the show resonated with with themes close to my heart, namely ocean pollution and the ecological imbalance which is seeing the worlds oceans plagued with unprecedented populations of jellyfish . The story is told beautifully, with puppets made by hand from ghost net and drift wood, along with dance and digital media. I loved the projections in a fish tank and the dancers dressed in plastic bags, beautifully mimicking the movements of my favorite sea creatures. I was overwhelmingly inspired and spent the following day at Kominatus, weaving ( more) jellyfish from fishingline.
And welcome to my new website!!
I want to start my first blog with thanks to the Larrakia people, the first nations custodians of the beautiful country where i live, walk, swim, dance, play, love, run, create, cry and laugh. Over the past 25 years in Darwin, I have found a home, my people, my dog, my children and endless inspiration from the Arafura Sea and it’s captivating creatures .
I first met Aunty Bilawara 20 years ago, when she invited me to weave with her and her family at Rapid Creek where she introduced me to her country and ancestors. Many years later we were weaving together again, to make a large public art work, titled Intertwined, a pair of large Bronze Jellyfish situated at East Point, commissioned by the City of Darwin in 2014. At the opening ceremony she held a smoking ceremony, saying-
“Jellyfish totem speaks to us of simplifying our life – that we should go with the flow of the currents and allow things to take their course. She shows us how to rest in the earthly realm and not to rush. We are encouraged to take a walk; get close to nature so you can see the world in a better light. How apt is this wisdom – it fits perfectly with where Aly’s wonderful jellyfish children are located”
I extend my thanks to all the the traditional owners of the many lands I traverse to create, teach and learn, especially the wonderful women at Anindilyakwa Arts on Groote Eylandt with whom I have been fortunate enough to work with since 2015.
I also acknowledge my own ancestors. My grandparents , who left the Netherlands with my father and his three Siblings, boarding a boat from Amsterdam to arrive in Fremantle, Western Australia in 1956. One of my earliest memories was spending hours in my Oma’s garden and green house, cramming flowers and leaves into bottles to produce potions and perfumes . I am still playing with plants and find endless joy from stuffing things in jars.
This is a digital diary of my creative adventures . Thank you so much for your interest , I am hoping through this website and blog I can share ideas, recipes and stories so that you too are inspired .
A creative life is a blessed life.
Happy World Cyanotype Day.
Cyanotype is an alternative photographic technique invented by John Herschel in the early 1800s. His niece, English botanist Anna Atkins, is regarded as one of the first female photographers’due to her photographic explorations and discoveries that contributed significantly to the evolution of photography. The cyanotype process involves placing objects, such as leaves , on paper coated with light-sensitive chemicals and then left in sunlight.
Botanists recognised the usefulness of the cyanotype technique for recording the details of plant structure and for capturing and recording information of fragile dried specimens. Atkins could make her significant contribution because she already had an extensive botanical collection, and had experience of botanical publication. She recorded and published many of her own specimens in her book: Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, which included more than four hundred photographs .
Atkins’s stunning botanical prints were the botanist’s means of understanding and settling a curiosity with her direct surrounds, thus creating a relationship and understanding with the natural world. I too engage the use of cyanotype processes to document and understand the unfamiliar natural surrounds I encounter in my travels and have been making cyanotypes on the rooftop garden at Kominatus Salihara where i am an artist in residence as a part of the Melbourne University Collaborative cross cultural exchange program.
A series of samples on paper, silk and canvas resulted from this experimentation of making cyanotype prints with the leaves gathered i and objects made in Indonesia . Upon my return to Australia, I continued to experiment with these samples, as well as making new ones, dyeing these prints using plant dye baths from common Northern Territory plants such as eucalyptus and mangrove leaves.
City of Darwin launched the Febuary installment of their CITYLIFE Platform outdoor illuminated public art program with the opening of a new exhibition: Arafura Connect – from Mangroves to Mudflats. The exhibition is by local NT artist Aly de Groot and is comprised of 10 of her works which emulate the sea-life and coastal environments found in the proximity of the Arafura Sea, including Nightcliff Beach where she lives and Groote Eylandt where she works at the Anindilyakwa Art Centre.
“The works are about connecting to places, different and familiar. They result from my passion for protecting and preserving the sea habitat and marine life we are so lucky to be surrounded by” said de Groot.
Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis was thrilled that the artworks wiere be on display across the city in the lead up to, and during the Arafura Games.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to extend the theme of the Arafura Games and really bring it to life in our public spaces .Aly’s work is a celebration of our beautiful Arafura coastline and we are proud to offer a platform to showcase these works to the community and to those who will be visiting our city during the games” said the Lord Mayor.
The opening event was held at the Foreshore Café, Casuarina Drive, Nightcliff on Febuary 10, 2019.
City of Darwin Council Alderman Robin Knox launched the event, which included a Welcome to Country by Larrakia Elder Bilawara Lee. The opening event also included the launch of a creative collaboration by local film producer Timothy Parish and Darwin music producer Gaia Osborne, who worked with the artist on a short film to present and promote the artworks. The 10 illuminated artworks were on show at The Mall, Chinatown Car Park and Nightcliff Pool, until May 2019.