When I was a child the neighbourhood kids and I would spend our free time riding bikes among the surrounding bushland. Although our street was branded a dead end if you ventured beyond the road signs you’d find yourself in wild terrain full of life where brumbies roamed and snakes slithered across your path. Inspired by the features of the landscape I used to make up stories for the other kids about how the land came to be. I wouldn’t say I was a natural storyteller but something about that place worked its way under my skin. Ever since I’ve wanted to travel around Australia with a dream of creating stories in our iconic landscapes to give the landscape a voice and inspire others to share and build their own stories in these natural settings.
Australians have a long history of storytelling whether it be Dreamtime or “spinning a yarn”. It’s a framework we create to feel a sense of connection, both to the land and to other people, to the past and the present. Our Indigenous ancestors felt a deep spiritual connection with country fostered through the sharing of stories yet people of the present day experience a disconnect between themselves and the land; it’s merely something to plunder and urbanise.
‘The Land and I’ project is a photographic series that brings stories inspired by local history and Indigenous culture to life using iconic Australian landscapes as a backdrop with the intention of highlighting places of natural beauty to instil a sense of community pride that ensures these spaces will be protected and treasured. We need to be educated about and reminded of the histories, memories and stories our landscapes contain and keep a record of not just people but also place.
I intend the works to become talking points for the community, inspiring others to visit these locations and make or share their own stories, photos and artworks, ultimately encouraging a sense of belonging and promoting reverence for our natural environment. These will be collected in an online cultural repository that attempts to capture the sights, sounds, smell and feel of these natural environments throughout time from a variety of viewpoints for the benefit of future generations.
Initially I will flesh out the concept using locations within the Moreton Bay Region, experimenting with lighting, framing and set design, working with amateur models and costumes created myself to establish the look and feel for the series. In the long term I plan to expand this project all over Australia, working with locally sourced talent in partnership with sponsors, government funds, and tourism boards to raise awareness.
See the project here