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Dots on the land: exploring art

Published 16 Oct 2016 by Sandy McKendrick

Sandy McKendrick is a visual and performance artist travelling through remote Western Australia facilitating the 'Dot on the Land' project. During this time Sandy is running workshops that explore the textures, tones and forms of the cultural and environmental landscape. Hamelin Reserve was her first stop. 

The DOT ON THE LAND arts-based project had a wonderful start with four days at Hamelin Reserve. I was treated to the luxury of a room at the Station Stay where I could quietly edit photos and write about the day. During the cooler mornings we explored the surrounding bushlands with the eight people who participated in the workshops.

We had time to intimately explore the rock formations, flora and fauna and begin to play with the patterns that can be created by carefully re-arranging materials into circular, ephemeral patterns.

We played a simple game where pairs worked together: one with eyes closed (the camera), the other carefully leading their partner over the rocky, log-strewn terrain. When an object of interest was found 'the camera' person was positioned as close as possible and a quick squeeze of the hand indicated that they should open their eyes for a second. This creates lasting images of the objects when eyes are closed.

It was hilarious watching children manoeuvre their parents to squat within centimetres of sheep scat or tipping their heads up to observe spider-web-finery on bushes above them. This was done in silence to heighten our senses to the subtle environmental sounds, aromas and textures.

Sculptures were made by collecting man-made detritus such as glass, ceramic shards and rusted metal, enough to collate a large two-dimensional circular pattern on the sand. The next two sculptures were created using only natural materials – sticks, rocks and shell grit giving more importance to the spacing and background soils.

There was continual discussion about the contrasting colours, textures, and weight of our materials. Also what looked graphically best for birds-eye photographs.

The patterns remain. Some will get blown away or covered with dust as they should. I love the ever-changing nature of this art-form and the opportunities it offers to intimately explore and begin to understand a little of this wonderful environment. How lucky I am to return for another session in a fortnight!

Big thanks to the wonderful staff: Jackie Mahood, Denise Ivers and David Hulks.

– Sandy McKendrick (Follow Sandra on Facebook: Sandpiper Productions)

Dot on the Land. Artist Sandy McKenrick and workshop participants with their 'installment'. Photo: Sandy McKenrick. Dot on the Land. Artist Sandy McKenrick and workshop participants with their 'installment'. Photo: Sandy McKenrick.
'Man-made rubbish transformed into art. Photo: Sandy McKenrick. 'Man-made rubbish transformed into art. Photo: Sandy McKenrick.
A large installment made from natural objects collected by participants. Photo: Sandy McKenrick. A large installment made from natural objects collected by participants. Photo: Sandy McKenrick.
A large circular pattern on the sand. Photo: Sandy McKenrick. A large circular pattern on the sand. Photo: Sandy McKenrick.
Shadow Puppets. Photo: Sandy McKenrick. Shadow Puppets. Photo: Sandy McKenrick.
Creating Shadow Puppets at Hamelin Station Stay. Photo: Sandy McKenrick. Creating Shadow Puppets at Hamelin Station Stay. Photo: Sandy McKenrick.

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