Nic Mason

Brush-tailed rock-wallaby (wirrang) scat strip I

Water colour, charcoal and conte crayon on paper, 15 x 127 cm (framed 28.5 x 153.5 cm).

Brush-tail rock-wallaby wirrang scat strip I sits with a number of series of works that I created during 2019. These series were created as part of or in conjunction with:

  • Art of Threatened Species, a project in collaboration with Department of Planning Industry & Environment, Create NSW and Orana Arts
  • my Bundanon Artist in Residence residency program; and
  • my Presence project during my Fine Arts Honours year at University of New South Wales, Art & Design.

My work is framed by the significant and ongoing biodiversity loss occurring within Australia with European colonisation. I am drawn into Anthropocene writings within the humanities including notions of ‘naturecultures’ theorised by Donna Haraway 1. I launch into new ways of seeing, thinking and being. I study contemporary strategies used by Australian artists such as ambiguity utilised by both Amanda Davies and Jude Rae. I examine how still life could be used in an arts practice to cheer viewers towards an alertness to ecological relationships.

The brush-tailed rock-wallaby, Petrogale penicillate or wirrang 2 (just one of the Wirradjuri words for this creature) is a threatened species now but was once considered an agricultural pest and a product for fur goods. Records reveal that more than 100 years ago over 500,000 were killed in a 20 year period alone 3. My research process’ include going behind the scenes at the Australian Museum and visiting brush-tail rock-wallaby habitat near my home where I live in Wiradjuri Country with specialists from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service including Dr Deborah Ashworth. Here, my work is interdisciplinary where I assist in research work upon the brush-tailed rock-wallaby population and I collect the scats piled by these creatures.

This particular work Brush-tail rock-wallaby wirrang scat strip I pays homage to this creature and honours these curious ephemeral and bio rich forms left by them. That these forms have an ambiguity and become creature like in themselves and with their relationships to each other intrigue me as I draw them. I enjoy the ground created by a liquid water colour wash that almost creates itself over time as it dries.

With my work, I am interested in the possibilities of enticing new ways of thinking through connection and engagement with art.

References:

1Haraway, D. J. (2003). The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness, Prickly Paradigm Press.

2Stan Grant, Elizabeth Grant, and Midnight Brydon, (spoken by), WCC Language Program, iphone ed., v. iOS 10.0 (Condobolin Corporation Limited, 2018), adapted from Stan Grant and John Rudder, A New Wiradjuri Dictionary (O’Conner, Australian Capital Territory: Restoration House, 2010)

3Eldridge, M. D. B. and Close, R. L. (2010). Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby Petrogale Penicillata in The Mammals of Australia ed by R. Strahan (Sydney: Australian Museum/Reed Books, 1995) 383-384 in Peter Menkhorst and Emily Hynes, National Recovery Plan for the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby Petrogale penicillata, Department of Sustainability and Environment, East Melbourne, 2010.

Images

Top left: Brush-tailed rock-wallaby (wirrang) scat strip I (scat strip I) with scat strips II and III;

Top centre: Detail of scat strip I;

Top right: Scat strip I;

Bottom image at top of page: Scat strip I framed;

Below left: Works in progress in this series;

Below right: Framed work in Covid-19 situ with works on the shelf by Bjorn Eriksson, Margaret Ling, Lisa Dwyer and Ruth Saveka.

Nic Mason is a regionally based visual artist having graduated in 2020 from University of New South Wales, Art & Design. Her practice is anchored in her background in ecological sciences and her rich domestic life. She regularly shows her work in solo and group shows.

http://www.nicmasonartist.com

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