Drawing on the ground (2015),
artist’s book in an edition of 5 (each unique).
22.7 x 31.5 x 2.0 cm.
192 pages: 68 pages of carbon paper drawings accompanied by 37 pages of handwritten and hand-stamped text.
Half bound in red kangaroo skin with black buckram by Fred Pohlmann. Red stained page edges.
This work is the outcome of a Siganto Foundation Artists’s Books Fellowship at the State Library of Queensland in 2014-15.
In Drawing on the ground I reflected on the act of sustaining oneself through an engagement with the land. Garden and farm diaries held in the John Oxley Collection were used for what they tell us about the ‘gardeners’ and their lives. I represented the labour or activity of the First Australians by drawing on certain artifacts such as grindstones or woven baskets from the Queensland Museum Collection. This evidence was supplemented with the recorded observations of settlers and explorers who saw the outcome of Aboriginal labour, whether it was extensive seed caches, finely woven nets, or freshly burned swathes of country.
Drawing on the ground is loosely chronological and moves irregularly between pages of text and drawings; captioned and un-captioned.
All text in Drawing on the ground is handwritten. There are no photographs and no printing (except some tiny stamped text where I needed to insert another voice in the work). The drawings are made with carbon paper, a reference to the letterbooks from the John Oxley Collection. My handwriting is a type of drawing of labour with my hand speaking of an existence in the way that the handwritten records themselves speak of many lives.
Through my own labour I gardened afresh in the social compost of others to produce a labour-infused artist’s book which explores what it means, or comes to mean, when we exert physical labour to draw sustenance from the ground, when we keep ourselves alive through our engagement with the land, the earth, the ground. Drawing on the ground is part diary, part history, part fiction, part autobiography; a response to labouring, and to the labour of making and keeping the records.
Work-in-progress reports written during the project can be found at http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/ala/
Drawing on the ground is available for purchase from grahame galleries and editions, Brisbane.