Touch this earth lightly

Project details


ceramics, audio, projections



2019 marks the 10th anniversary of this project. On December 2, 2019 the United Nations Framework on Climate Change COP25 begins 2 weeks of discussions and we hope actions. It seemed an appropriate time to unpack these skins/shoes each pair of which was cast from the feet of an individual somewhere in Australia. People engaged in this process to share stories about their love and connection to the natural world. Collaborating with the Climate Guardians brought together and activated this collection in a public plea for action.

The project started in 2009 as part of the Williams’ River Valley Artists’ Project where Juliet Fowler-Smith invited artists to make work in response to the proposed damming of the Williams River in the Hunter Valley NSW (Tillegra Dam). Juliet’s family has been property owners in the proposed inundation area for generations, and as an artist herself Juliet wanted to present a variety of artists’ responses to the dam proposal. I was living in the area at the time and the anguish and tension that large scale change to the landscape, and uses of land produce, was palpable in the community.

For me this created a need to extract the emotive, to find a way of engaging with people that would allow for a frank conversation where emotions could be described in a safe place, a place where there is an understanding of the connection between people and the environment and a desire to explore that. touch this earth lightly is a project that delves into the emotional and cultural connection to land/place and the environment.

People have joined the project from across Australia stretching from Kalkaringji in the Northern Territory to the Coorong in South Australia. The project is ongoing with the collection of more stories and feet along the way, installations appear at various places as opportunities arise. The final product will be presented as a portrait of people and place, questioning what that means in a constantly shifting and changing world.

Shrouding of the skins Photo courtesy Julian Meehan
Climate Guardians, Photo courtesy of Julian Meehan
Photo courtesy of Julian Meehan
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