Colony 2010 comes home

Colony 2010. Photography Jon Linkins.

Colony 2010. Made in Agathis Australis (New Zealand Kauri or Kauri). Photography Jon Linkins.

After touring Australia for the past year for WOOD: art design architectureColony 2010 came home to Queensland this month and is presently on show at the QUT Art Museum. The Kauri used for Colony 2010 is very old, has passed through many hands and travelled countless miles. In the 1800’s Kauri Pines, tens of thousands of years old were felled in Northern New Zealand and shipped to Australia.

The Making of Colony. Photography Christina Waterson.

This complex work was made possible through working with a highly skilled artisan based near Mapleton, Queensland. His knowledge of making and respect for the wood is evident in the final piece. The precious wood was used as efficiently as possible. Photography Christina Waterson.

This timber was used for bridges, boats and storage vats because of its strength and natural resistance to rot. During this time the Kauri used in Colony 2010 was shipped to Sydney and made into rum vats for the Pyrmont distillery that began operation in the 1890’s. In the early 1990’s the distillery was closed and the Kauri staves from the vats were salvaged.

I grew up in Bundaberg (Queensland) where sugar and rum production were the main industries. Large Bundaberg rum vats similar to those at Pyrmont Distillery. Photo courtesy of Bundaberg Rum.

I grew up in Bundaberg (Queensland) where sugar and rum production were the main industries. Pictured here are large Bundaberg rum vats similar to those from the Pyrmont Distillery. Photo courtesy of Bundaberg Rum Ltd.

Traces of the timber’s previous use have been kept in Colony 2010. Some panels still have the rum visible in their surface: appearing as darker lines and shades. The rum soaked staves wafted of rum as they were machined. Colony 2010 is an experiment. It is a lesson in what not to do with wood. The wood staves have been cut to reveal the patterned end grain of the Kauri to show the age of the original tree. While the timber is very old and stable this type of cutting and tapering has really pushed the material to its limit.

Colony 2010 (Detail). Photography Jon Linkins.

Colony 2010 (Detail). Photography Jon Linkins.

The finite nature of Kauri Pine: the tree and the wood, have informed the work’s arrangement. Colony 2010 is made up of like, repeated parts grouped together for strength, protection and support. At the edges is where the work is vulnerable but also where it is most likely to grow, multiply and seek out new ground.

Colony 2010. Photography Jon Linkins.

Colony 2010 silhouette. The edge holds the greatest potential for growth or vulnerability. Photography Jon Linkins.

At the edges of society, culture and thinking this dichotomy also exists. At these edges creative endeavours, new ideas and ways of thinking push forward into unknown territory or pull back to safer ground. At the edge there is the potential to succeed and grow, or risk everything, fail and retreat. Colony 2010 holds true to this condition by pushing material, form and ideas of function. Its existence is a result of pure belief and a will to strive for something more. Seeing this work again reminded me just how lucky I am to still be on this journey, despite all odds.

WOOD: art design architecture is on show at the QUT Art Museum until 29 June 2014. Check out there website for public programmes, events and workshops related to wood (the material and the exhibition). WOOD: art design architecture resulted from a collaboration between JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design and Botanic Gardens of Adelaide, where it was presented in February through early April 2013, with the exhibition continuing its national tour throughout 2013 and 2014. Take a closer look at my review of the original exhibition here.






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