21st October – 13th November  2016

Bev Hogg and I have just finished making the components for our sculpture installation Growing Ground to be installed as part of Contour 556, the new Public Art Festival opening next weekend in Canberra.   The Festival will feature sculptures and installations by over 40 local and international artists as well as performances, sound installations, music and digital works. Sculptures and installations will be ranged along the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore from the National Library to the Kingston Arts Precinct.  Our work will be in Bowen Park – where the swans are – about half way along the walk.

Artists and performers have been asked to respond to one or more aspects of human interaction with the landscape of the site over the past 50,000 years.  For us there were also administrative considerations associated with security for the work.  So we decided to make an ephemeral piece – putting back the native grass that was once such a feature of the land before the lake was made. And also referencing the grids and plantings of early european farming practices. In late summer we gathered armfuls of Kangaroo Grass (Themeda Ternata) and hung it up in bunches to dry.  The Kangaroo Grass forms the basis of our completed work together with weathered strips of timber.

It will be an interesting 3 weeks.  It’s been a wet spring to date and predicted to continue that way … and our site has an automatic watering system that comes on at night.  So our grassy patch will need to survive both artificial watering and the vagaries of nature – rain, wind, heat and cold together with the possible depredations of the local bird life – cockatoos and swans included (the grass could make excellent nesting material). And then there’s the public. It will certainly not survive children with footballs or people picking the grass!  Part of the work may well be watching it slowly disintegrate over the three weeks.  Understandably it is not for sale!

So watch this space – or better still, take a walk along the lake’s edge and see it for yourself plus all the other work.

For more information on the Festival, artists and works check out Contour556 on Facebook

Above: Marianne Courtenay & Bev Hogg ‘Growing Ground’ (detail) 370cm square x 65cm high
Below: Kangaroo Grass drying in the studio.

Courtenay & Hogg - Growing Ground (detail)