Lizzie Buckmaster Dove

Ghost Trees for Spirit of Place 2016

Sited on the edge of Lake Illawarra on Australia’s east coast, Ghost Trees for Spirit of Place stand as guardian totems, representing the local community’s collective memory and history of the lake.

Each of the seven totems has a distinct character that defines an individual aspect of the lake; sanctuary, place, memory, imagination, freedom, weather and protection.

The work illustrates the lakes rich cultural history, and its significance to all Shellharbour’s people spanning thousands of years, since the first Aboriginal people walked its shores. Standing together, the totems act as one, reflecting the strength of the lake community.

https://www.youtube.com/user/lakeillawarramap/videos

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Ghost Trees for Spirit of Place, Collaboration with Robert Nancarrow

Ghost Trees for Spirit of Place represents the community’s collective memory and history of the lake, standing as guardian totems for Lake Illawarra.

Each of the seven totems has a distinct character that defines an individual aspect of the lake; sanctuary, place, memory, imagination, freedom, weather and protection.

The work illustrates the lakes rich cultural history, and its significance to all Shellharbour’s people spanning thousands of years, since the first Aboriginal people walked its shores. Standing together, the totems act as one, reflecting the strength of the lake community.

S a n c t u a r y

“If we all protect this lake together, we can still live like Kings and Queens.” Lake Illawarra MAP project, Living Like Kings and Queens, by Allan Carriage

The lake has always been a place of great abundance and sanctuary – it was a food bowl for aboriginal people and was the site of the first European land grants. From pre-settlement to now, people have fished and prawned on the lake.

This totem is peppered with cement cast shell-like formations or ‘barnacles’. These forms reference the multiple middens around the lake as well as the vessels & nets used to capture and store shellfish. The closed form itself suggests a close place of safety & sanctuary.

P r o t e c t i o n

“One stick is easily broken, but as a bunch we become a tree.” Lake Illawarra MAP project, The Last Big Dig, by Bob Parsons

This totem is made from a grouping of 18 trees. It references past community action undertaken to protect the lake and how indigenous people also kept the lake at optimum health, by using digging sticks to keep the lake entrance open. Visually it relates to reeds growing on the lake edge. This totem speaks to a growing awareness the lake has been damaged and needs protecting as well as how the lake itself protects its inhabitants.

P l a c e

“(the lake) is wrapped around me like my skin.” Lake Illawarra MAP project, Like My Skin, by Joan Hodge

Sited between the escarpment and the sea, Lake Illawarra has a strong presence and history. To live on the lake is to identify with the lake. The lake and its people are inseparable.

This totem is a singular post with an oversized rope wrapped tightly around it. The rope references boating activities on the lake and symbolizes the skins used as clothing by aboriginal people.

M e m o r y

“There used to be a hall on the big island – Gooseberry Island – and from the early 1900s to the mid 1930s, about 4 or 5 times a year there would be a dance in the hall.” Lake Illawarra MAP project, Play Work Love, by Sonny Massey

The lake is the one place in the Illawarra where continuity of Aboriginal occupation is the most visible in the historic record. The objects and artifacts collected in this totem represent collective community memories and were in part inspired by the Memory and Place Project. https://www.youtube.com/user/lakeillawarramap/videos

This totem features perspex cases containing collected materials and memories from the shore of the lake; shells, sea-washed bricks, coal pebbles, crockery, driftwood, an oar, fishing net, hessian bags once used as sails, tent canvas and tent pegs, dancing shoes from when Gooseberry Island once held a dance hall, a teacup and saucer, a red hurricane lamp, milk jug, fishing float. The encased objects echo the form of middens – created in layers, over time, with a repetition of material.

I m a g i n a t i o n

“Keeping little breaths or blinks of natural area in an increasingly urbanized environment.” Lake Illawarra MAP project, That Breath That Blink, by Andrew Knowlson

The windows in this totem frame different aspects of the lake, sky, escarpment, and shoreline as well as the urbanised environment. If you look through the lowest two windows it isn’t hard to imagine the lake pre-settlement. The windows encourage dreaming and imagination. The milled timber references the time of the early land grants when ‘you could hear the sound of the settlers axe’.

F r e e d o m

“We learned to swim before we could walk, and even before I went to school we’d go swimming down in the lake. Us kids lived on the lake. We’d row all over the lake with oars. All of us had our own nets that we made ourselves.” Lake Illawarra MAP project, Play Work Love, by Sonny Massey

Over and over again people talk about the lake as a place where they are able to roam and be free.

This totem is constructed using a concrete pipe with 12 oars inserted into the top. The pipe references the lakes industrial past and the oars suggest the freedom of boating on the lake. Oars are like wings; they can take us places; they inspire freedom.

W e a t h e r

”I was conceived in a southerly buster, that’s why I’m always on the go.” Lake Illawarra MAP project, Child of A Southerly Buster – Aileen Shepherd

The lake, activities on the lake and life for the lakes inhabitants is shaped by dominant climatic and weather conditions, most notably wind. In the past, it has meant the entrance closes up because of shifting sands, fishermen are unexpectedly caught out on the lake in a storm, or the foreshore of the lake is flooded.

This totem is created using a metal pipe, with an industrial air duct on top. The industrial forms reflect past lakeside & current industrial development (at one time there were 191 pipes running into the lake). The spinning air duct symbolizes the dominant force of the wind.

 

Thank you to: Daniel Sullivan at Sullivans Stone & Garden Art for the master class in cement casting; Margie Rahmann and Justin Clayton for the rope; Donna Shingler for the dancing shoes; Paul at Retro Wombat for the tent pegs, hessian bags and fishing net; Jane Hookey and David Slattery at Australis canoes for the paddles; and everyone who has contributed their time and memories to this project, it couldn’t have happened without you.