EXHIBITION 25 15 Aug – 15 Sept 2021
Lives: Beulah Park. South Australia
Title: Familiar Activism: Truth-Telling
The Notice Board is proud to share Australian artist Sera Waters’ work. In the mid 1800s Sera’s ancestors migrated from Lincolnshire to South Australia where they spread across Kaurna, Bunganditj, Nukunu, Adnyamathanha and Ngarrindjeri Country. Along with welcoming her and her work back to Lincolnshire the Notice Board wanted to invite consideration on the question about what or who is free?
Sera says: My ancestors propogated roots in waterholes, down mine shafts, upon woolly backed sheep, in the crevices between stacked bricks from which they made homes, and in the bitumen of highways. They flourished and my art reckons with the knots from these inherited settler colonial pasts and the resulting ecological damage. But now it’s time to reckon with and redirect intergenerational colonial mindsets which have normalised colonising acts – family traditions like gardening, mining, farming, imported to a land where they do not always fit.
These artworks are acts of truth-telling; a flag exposing the land grab of unceded Aboriginal country and a set of artifacts revealing the dry that comes from draining for pastoralism. Today in Australia towering cabbage palms indicate some of the earliest colonial homesteads. They were planted to send out a visual signal of claiming land, declaring far and wide “this is MINE”.
Water exits the drought stricken land of Australia at a quickening pace. Once, before rocks and trees were removed en masse and drains were cut to make land suitable for pastoralism, chains of ponds and thin creeks allowed water to slowly trickle toward the sea. Now trickles have become streams, rivers, a mass exodus, a road across dry land.
These artworks are part of a larger project where I’m grappling with how to navigate a future of growing ecological disasters. I am asking what art can pragmatically contribute to going forward care-fully?
Going forward, for me, equates to looking back to past ancestral traditions from slower pre-industrial eras. I am scouring archives and artifacts and locating intergenerational knowledge in domestic textile traditions: evidence of how to repurpose, repair and preserve; traditions of comforting with soft furnishings and warm protective clothing; of how knowledge-filled stories and narratives of hope have been displayed to propel us on or enable us to learn from the past; how we remember and tell-truths to serve justice and social equality and shift trajectories; how we slow down bodily to fall in rhythm with the ancient roots and seasonal pulses around us to live more mindfully and calmly.
This project does not deny advancing technologies, we live in different circumstances to our ancestors and not all traditions are beneficial to reinstate, yet examining traditions critical to sustaining humans humbly for thousands of years (until disrupted in the last few hundred) revives knowledge worth preserving.
Sera Waters embroideries and hand-crafted sculptures dwell within the gaps of history to examine Australian settler-colonial home-making patterns, especially ‘genealogical ghostscapes’. More recently Waters has been exploring how textile traditions can be restored to navigate a threatened future. www.serawaters.com.au
The Notice Board is a contemporary art project showcasing the work of international artists. Featuring month-long exhibitions curated to the theme: The Lands of the Free? The project connects audiences to artists work, whilst offering artists unusual exhibition spaces in the form of a Notice Board and Flagpole.