Canaipa Mudlines

Canaipa Mudlines finds company within the broader movement of art practice that adopts the natural environment as studio, gallery, archive, teacher, trigger, idea-smith, wise collaborator and honest critic. Since 2016 we have come alive to the outer movements and changes, the subtitles and minutiae, as well as the wild and unpredictable behaviours that characterise a world that lies beyond the control and restraining power of the ingenious human engineer. From Littoral shores belted by mangroves to swampy wetlands, soft and alive under foot, to narrow sandy shores and humming casuarina groves, we have found that the sensibility responsive to form, pattern, contrast and structure, is enlivened and broadened. The excursions are not just isolated ventures into the environment, but are an unfolding revelation of the nature of self and world.

Our activities are largely based within the South Moreton Bay Islands, a small clutch of inhabited islands within Quandamooka country. Jencoomercha (Macleay ), Canaipa (Russell), Ngudooroo (Lamb) and Karragarra, which has always maintained its indigenous name. Within this group, we have worked mostly on Canaipa Island, including hosting several artist residencies and public events. We were also guests on Minjerriba (North Stradbroke Island), in 2017, welcomed to that country by the generous hospitality of Delvene Cockatoo Collins and Quandamooka Elder Evelyn Parkin. For the most part, the materials we use are found and and remain on site. Occasionally we bring a spool of string, a bolt of muslin, a square of canvas. Occasionally we find objects that have been left by previous visitors: a chair, a bottle, a lawn mower. The boundaries of the inhabited and natural worlds are not firm, even here. But one thing seems certain: it is the natural world that has the final say, when it comes to the consequences of what goes in and what comes out.

November Residency: Melomy's Wetlands

There were some significant weather events that altered our theatre of play considerably during the November residency. Principally, the rain. The shallow and not so shallow dips in the groves where we worked filled with water. Small things got washed away, other things floated; nest like hollows became basins, tubs of black reflective water, where tree reflections plunged into another realm. The rain also showed us something about the tides down here. The water that we edged had remained low all week. It didn’t matter what the time of day, it never seemed to stretch into the grassy edges like it had done earlier in the year. Now, after the rain, it was full and brimming, lapping at the trees, seeping up through the peat. But it was only shin deep, all the way across to the mangrove island that broke away south of our limits, and protected our secrets from the open. In other words, the water here was half tide, half lake, and how this was worked out I still have no idea. New wonders were opening up every day.

The open day saw a good number of island folk making their way down the long sandy track to the hidden surprises of the forest. It is not so easy to get to, or to find. One visitor, who came by bicycle, had to carry his transport waist deep through swamp waters. But there was another route. Still, it is that kind of place that can remain hidden despite living here for many years. There are no signs - except the ones we put out for the day - and the entry to our part of the forest was marked by Sarsha and Sandy’s beautiful stick arch and fence way that directed visitors through the least boggy path. It was an afternoon of enchantment. New friends, rich conversation and a delicious lunch.

Sharon JewellComment