Macquarie Marshes in focus as internationally important wetland in UK exhibition
Internationally important wetlands of Australia and the UK are the subject of an exhibition opening in the UK this week — the culmination of three years’ work by Australian artist, Kim V. Goldsmith (Dubbo, NSW) and UK-based artist, Andrew Howe (Shropshire) in the wetlands and the communities of the Macquarie Marshes of north-west NSW, and the Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses on the England/Wales border. Both wetlands are listed under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
What started as an email conversation became a project called Mosses and Marshes, and is now an international exhibition, book, and programme of public events. The first exhibition opening is on 1 October at Qube Gallery, Oswestry UK, with further exhibitions in Australia in 2022.
Goldsmith and Howe were introduced in late 2018 through the international remote collaboration art programme, (Arts) Territory Exchange. Via regular emails, they eventually put together a brief in 2019 for what would become the Mosses and Marshes project. Since then, they’ve compiled extensive site documentation, field recordings, stories, research, and ideas from other artists, wetland communities, land managers, and scientists, with the intention of exploring the place wetlands have in regional communities, now and in future.
The foreword in the Mosses and Marshes book written by Dave Pritchard, an independent consultant on environment, culture, heritage, and the arts for bodies including the UN Environment Programme and the Council of Europe, touches on the role art plays in transcending fixed ways of thinking.
“Science cannot help with decisions about what meaning to give to any experience in the environment, or how to be reconciled to aspects of the natural world that may be spiritually challenging. Some of the deepest truths are expressible only by poetry or metaphor.”
Individual and collaborative artworks in the exhibition reflect both local differences and shared global challenges for these fragile environments on opposite sides of the planet, informed by extensive desktop research, reading, and many conversations over time. The exhibition mediums include long and short videos, soundscapes, prints, and paintings.
“In our respective studios, we’ve worked to create works that not only celebrate the obvious beauty of the wetlands and recognise the place they’ve held within their respective communities over the centuries but also provoke conversations around what shape their future might take.
“There are hidden narratives we’ve wanted to bring to the table as we have conversations about that future, including stories revealed to us by the wetlands during and following the time we spent there.”
The UK exhibition is just one part of an extensive programme that includes three exhibitions — two Australian exhibitions are to come — in Canberra in April 2022, followed by a showing at Coonamble’s Outback Arts Creative Arts Centre. The 112-page Mosses and Marshes book will be available by mid-October. Australian events kick off with an artist talk on Zoom on 14 October and a facilitated international panel discussion on 11 November. More is planned for 2022.
In Australia, the project has received funding from the Australian Government through the Regional Arts Fund via Regional Arts NSW, crowdfunding with Creative Partnerships Australia through the Australian Cultural Fund, and from the NSW Government through Create NSW. There’s also been extensive in-kind support over the course of the project.
Kim V. Goldsmith
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Andrew Howe (UK) and Kim V. Goldsmith (AU) pictured below. Media pack button below for access to images.