'Making home - softening the edges (Hill End)' detail ©2013. Nicola Moss. Acrylic, natural ochre, charcoal frottage, rust stain, monoprint, canvas, interfacing, thread, hand cut papers. 300cm x 600cm variable. Courtesy of SGAR.
During my artist in residence at Hill End last year I stayed at Haefliger's cottage. The cottage belonged to Jean Bellette and her husband Paul Haefliger, who lived there in the 1940's and 50's. An award winning artist and tutor, Jean moved to Majorca with her husband in 1957 and never permanently returned to Australia. The cottage still holds many of her personal possessions. When Jean passed away in 1991, she bequeathed the cottage to NSW Parks and Wildlife service on the condition it become an artists' retreat. This generous bequest has contributed to an ongoing cultural heritage of artists visiting and working at Hill End.
Prior to the journey to Hill End my work focused on the ecology of landscapes, looking at contemporary issues of how communities shape environment through development and conservation. I went to Hill End thinking about the degradation of landscape I might see, over a century after the gold mining boom. It is there, still; but I found myself drawn to the cultural heritage that has adapted the ecology of Hill End over time.
When I arrived at the start of Spring, wattle was in full bloom and many fruit trees and remnant orchards throughout the town were bursting with spring blossom; making for a striking juxtaposition of native and exotic flower. Peach, pear, apricot, apple and quince are just a few of the fruiting varieties, many of them planted over 140 years ago. Some stand amongst the rubble of building that they once were planted next to.
My first exhibition of works from the residency focuses on this influence of culture and the idea of 'making home'. I am interested in the way this basic necessity of dwelling in a place, of making home and seeking comfort, the necessity of food and heritage of migration has shaped the ecology of Hill End.
'Making home - softening the edges' is a large paper cut installation I made to fit the gallery wall space at SGAR. This work features several exotic species which now contribute to the fabric of Hill End. Elements of 'making home' are interwoven with plant species reflecting on the adaption and shaping of landscape, and our relationship to it.
There are many unique qualities to Hill End. One is the opportunity to see stages of settlement in a place over several generations and the resulting impact of this on environment. The cultural heritage of adaption and introduction. Looking at the past has enabled me to reflect on the present. The choices we make today in shaping and adapting environments around us determines the heritage we leave for future generations. In ecology everything is connected....including time.
'Making home - softening the edges(Hill End)' ©2013. Nicola Moss. Acrylic, natural ochre, charcoal frottage, rust stain, monoprint, canvas, interfacing, thread, hand cut papers. 300 x 600cm variable. Installed at SGAR.