performative portraits

5 performative portraits – digital artworks with moving image and sound is my contribution to the exhibition Artists in Volatile Landscapes, Casula Powerhouse, 2023. Artists in Volatile Landscapes is the culmination of 18 months creative research undertaken by 30 artists from across NSW who responded to the question, ‘What does the future look like in your region?’. The project is an initiative of the NSW Regional Arts Network under the banner of ‘Regional Futures’ and funded by Create NSW. Pics from the exhibition & symposium below.

Artists across different mediums & in collaboration with other sectors and in consultation with their communities, have explored key issues affecting their region, revealing the hopes & fears for the future. Through their creative practice, they have explored questions around climate change, housing, healing of country, sustainability, finite resources, renewable energy, acting now for the future & how to listen better to the environment and to the non-human world.

My response is a series of five performative portraits of people in the Hunter Valley region who are taking action to develop a sustainable and low-carbon future. In this series the focus has been to respond to those who are change makers via individual action, taking grass-roots steps and keeping abreast of developments of sustainable ecologies within the region.

The portraits are not static moments but are performative and incorporate movement and sound to reflect the individuals actions. The locations are site specific to the person/practice – a building site, paddock, river, ecological community. The pace and soundscape reflects the action represented. Some actions are celebrated as rhythmic and upbeat. Other actions are slow, meditative and ponderous.

Stills from the works on exhibition Artists in Volatile Landscapes at the Casula Powerhouse below

About the people featured in the works –

‘Healthy build’
Shane Hannan – eco builder • hempcrete
3rd generation builder, Shane Hannan of Hannan Build (designing and building sustainable healthy homes, Dungog). Shane and his crew build sustainable healthy homes with a carbon zero to negative footprint. He specialises in natural building materials and creating beautiful structures with hemp. Hemp is a sustainable, healthy, natural building material with some unique properties: it is fire resistant, termite resistant, creates breathable walls, is great natural insulation (more than twice traditional brick veneer). Once it is in a wall the carbon is sequestered for the life of the building. The portrait depicts the rythmic/performative aspect of creating hempcrete. Shane is using a mixing machine to combine the hemp herd, mixing powder, sand and water which is then tamped into formwork to create shaped walls.
Thankyou: HannanBuild crew, Brian Doherty – sound

‘Rake, scratch, scrape’
Jane Richens – biodiversity farmer • Brush turkey meditation • Tabbil Forest
Brush Turkey meditation is a reflective performative action, referencing how different species, such as brush turkeys, contribute to the natural cycling of ecosystems. In the case of our local rainforest ecosystem, the brush turkeys are raking feral weed species into their nesting mounds.

‘Regenerative farming observations’
Annabel Kater – regenerative farmer – cattle & forestry
This portrait follows Annabel as observer and contemplator in her regenerative farming practices as she ponders carbon farming through paddock health and forest ecology.
Thankyou: Penny & Rod Kater, Bonnington, sound – Brian Doherty, Virginia Hilyard, Barbara Campbell, Tabbil Forest critters

‘Stinger disco’
Dressed to dance – Sting disco
Cast: Juvenile Giant Stinging Tree – Dendrocnide excelsa, Jane Richens & Brian Doherty, sound – Tabbil Forest night critters
A stinging tree (Dendrocnide Excelsa) is dressed to dance.

‘Allyn River conversation’
Sharon Edgar-Jones – First Nation linguist reclaiming language
Filmed on Gringai country, Allyn River
Aunty Sharon Edgar-Jones, reclaiming language and culture. 
Thankyou: Penny & Rod Kater, Bonnington

Artists in Volatile Landscapes – exhibition and symposium, Casula Powerhouse, 2023

A great opportunity to make connections with artists and art workers across NSW and gain an understanding of what their concerns are in their region and the diversity of the ways they approach them.

Regional Futures website
Regional Futures instagram page
Jane’s Regional Futures Project development page