Beneath the Surface Level

On a members-only SAQA critique blog the other day, Kristin LaFlamme posted a work in progress, continuing with a theme she is following, of those of us who have nomadic lifestyles and the issue of putting down roots, or feeling the need to, or indeed feeling the absence of roots. She showed a pic of lots of little houses along the top with a huge void beneath, and talked of how she plans to go on, options, etc. I commented that her image reminded me of this work of mine, executed in 1985 or 1986, and said I’d try to find it and post it on this blog. so it’s the subject today, as it has prompted me in several ways.

We were living in a town we had lived some years earlier, the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. In our first stint there we had been living in a house up on a company mining lease. The lovely park-like setting for these houses was actually atop a slime dump (underground waste material) beneath which were large caverns remaining after ore had been mined decades previously. It always bothered me to think of what was below, and I was never so glad as when we drove off those leases for the last time. We went back, to live again, another company, years later – and then saw that what is now called the Super Pit, had already been started to mine the area beneath those housing areas. And they have long since gone. It’s now a vast pit, kilometeres long and who knows how deep. (I’m sure there’s masses of stuff to google on Kalgoorlie, the Super Pit, and related links – I haven’t looked though)

How I felt about that time and situation was expressed in this stitchery, entitled “On The Golden Mile” and included in a solo exhibition of embroidery I had in 1987. The background was lightly spray painted, the minute stitchery done in either danish flower thread or single or double strands of stranded embroidery thread/floss. There’s lots of running stitch, standard and and long stemmed french knots, and fly stitch used in various ways in the vegetation. From memory, the overall dimensions are about 16″ x 14″, and so the houses and trees are pretty small ! and very small by comparison with the vastness of the open cut pit that has already been commenced below.

It is one thing to look back over work done back in the past, not only from the point of being struck by amazement at doing this kind of thing (my eyes were so much younger then) but further thoughts develop, principal among them ideas on where I was and what I was then preoccupied with, and how these things tie in with where I am now. Interesting.

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One Response to “Beneath the Surface Level”

  1. kristin L says:

    Thanks for pulling this piece out of the “archives.” I can definitely see the similarities between our works and why one would remind you of the other. It’s always interesting to me what sparks people’s reaction to different artworks. Our experiences are very different, and yet the imagery in both pieces can speak to both of us.

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