Atrabilious: Depression of the Spirit, 2007

Atrabilious: Depression of the Spirit. 20 mt drawing installation.

Charcoal rubbings of dying trees as a statement for experiencing suicidal tendencies, mental illness and recovery. Artist statement located below gallery with extra info links..

Atrabilious is available for exhibition including technique workshop and artist talk. Whole installation is available for acquisition . POA

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 Inspiration for this installation came from my experience of major depression, chronic anorexia and suicidal plans. Weakened and frail, waiting for death  I needed to find a reason to stay alive. 

I lived near the bank of the Murray River and found the sadness deep within me resonated with the dying trees that surrounded me.   I recorded the stories of these dead and dying trees as a way to record , what could have been my final story. The skeletal figures I found coming through the imprints of the trees was me. Brittle, charred, starving.  The trees saved my life.

Depression of the Spirit .

Over a twelve month period, I slowly , health permitting, sourced these fallen monoliths for their unique textures; their forms, sizes and lines and expression of the lives they had lived. More often than not I stumbled across these trees by chance; throughout the Riverina, along the banks of the once mighty Murray River and other wetlands of the northern region of Victoria.

I chose sections of each particular tree that evoked an emotional response from me, and then proceeded to take these spasmodic, erratic and seemingly chaotic rubbings of these textures. Using wet and dry charcoal, sections of paper 160 cm in height and of varying widths were laid across the trees for the rubbings to be taken. This has been a full body drawing experience, the trees and paper being larger than myself. I then returned to my studio and began to rework each individual piece. I searched through the chaos of marks that each friend had given me, and drew out the skeletal formations and symbolic scenes of melancholic desperation. This revealed the nightmare of drought through images and voices that made themselves available to me. Revealing the nightmare within me, fighting to stay here in this life. 

Recording each individual tree’s markings has ironically evoked a freshness of life, as through death comes rebirth and regeneration. If I had not have found these stories, my own story would have ended.

The materials used are intentionally related; tree, paper, charcoal and water. Without the one there cannot be the other. Without the muse there can be no art.

My intention is to engulf the audience in these visually textual images, just as the gallery walls are engulfed, to enable a sense of being “in” the drawings themselves. This is certainly to challenge, if not overwhelm the audience. However, the response elicited is not only emotional, for as much as depression is a form of living death, it can and should inspire a sense of revelation, creating light and understanding through tragedy.


Links for Atrabilious