Your one wild and precious life
Roadside memorial – floral kangaroo sculpture. Materials – artificial flowers, hot glue and wire. Dimensions – Height 700mm Length 1100mm Width 350mm.
I was eight when my family’s maroon ford falcon hit a large roo on the Euchareena road. I asked my dad if he remembered it. Remember? He said. How could I forget? There were four of us kids in the car, along with mum and dad. I was in the middle seat, in the front. You were beside yourself, dad said. It took us ages to calm you down.
A friend works as a ranger, and his uniform reminds me of Skippy, a TV show from my childhood. Concerned parents once asked him to tell their children that the animals lying by the side of the road were sleeping. The truth was too awful to speak. Sometimes we don’t even move these creatures off the road after we’ve hit them. Their exhausted bodies become smears in time.
The roads that connect regional and remote communities are treacherous. Roadside memorials mark spots where human beings have died, often without warning and in tragic circumstances. The artificial flowers last longer than cut flowers. They somehow feel more poignant — unnatural reminders of our fragility. We don’t mark the places where creatures from the more than human world die. There are too many deaths, and besides, they were in our way.
Borrowing its title from Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day, this work asks us to consider the preciousness of all life and pays tribute to the non-human lives lost on our roads.
Karen Golland is a multidisciplinary artist based in Bathurst. Her work explores the universal themes of life and death, love and loss. Golland’s work examines personal and intimate experiences, with the understanding that these experiences are often shared. Like our memories, her installations are ephemeral, and endlessly reconfigurable, resisting completion.
All photos by Karen Golland except for bottom left by Silversalt Photography.