NOW SHOWING:

SUE COOKE
Silva Inferno

 

 

October 28th – November 16th

Silva Inferno is an exhibition inspired by the glow and the power of fire and its role in deforestation.  The exhibition depicts the beauty, tragedy and regeneration of a forest during and after the burn.

The images have developed through my drawings, observations and research of increased wildfires worldwide due to industrialised forestry practises and climate change. In particular the ferocity of the largescale Australian Wildfires of 2019 and a visit to Millstream in Western Australia’s Pilbara region after a controlled burn.

I admire the specialised knowledge and techniques of the controlled burning techniques of the Australian Aboriginal and the American Indian people. I despair at the lack of leadership from governments and industries worldwide to take positive action to mitigate the loss of the world’s forests. I look to the future with hope after reading Charles Massy’s, Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture – A New Earth, outlining a system of working with nature to combat drought, wildfires and eliminate the use of insecticides and herbicides.

Fire has been part of my own recent experience. On the night of July 20th 2019, I watched the brick and matai structure of a heritage building in downtown Whanganui, New Zealand, owned by my husband and I tragically burn beyond repair.

The exhibition Silva Inferno uses chiaroscuro, a technique of working with deep rich blacks and strong contrasts of light. A wordplay, Silva, meaning forest in Latin also refers to the metallic lithographic inks used for printing from stone. The works highlight the post blaze patina of silver ash, gold and rust coloured scorched foliage and deep black carbon.

I respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners, of the land I depict, the Yinjibarndi people whose Traditional Lands are the Millstream Chichester National Park. I also wish to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation where this exhibition is being shown. I pay respect to their Elders, past, present and future. I also wish to thank Jim and Marcella Geddes of the Eastern Southland Gallery, Gore, New Zealand for the generosity extended to me through their Artist in Residence Programme at the East Gore Art Centre. Most of the works in the exhibition were made there.