Copper Ships Tin Sheds Gallery 2011
Sue Pedley at Tin Sheds,
18th August- 3rd September 2011
In my work soundings are taken of connections between people, places and objects. Sounding is a way of probing the environment by sending out a signal and receiving information in return. The term derives from the ancient practice of determining the depth of water by lowering a line weighted at the end.
Copper Ships uses architectural forms in copper and bamboo, fragments of cloth, and video of two abandoned buildings and the rivers of west coast Tasmania and the seaways of Teshima, Japan to transform the gallery space into a confluence of sound, sites, cultures, memories and layered histories.
Traditionally both Tasmania and Teshima have relied on the exploitation of natural resources–mining and fishing –for survival. Both have since had to deal with the toxic consequences of this exploitation. From 1970 to 1990 Teshima was an illegal dumping ground for toxic waste that is only now being removed by ship and recycled on a neighbouring island. In Tasmania the scarring of the ‘moonscape’ mountains of Queenstown by acid rain ceased in 1965 but acid drainage from a copper mine into the river system continues.
In 2010 I spent seven weeks in Kou, on the island of Teshima, Japan, developing a work for the 2010 Setouchi International Arts Festival. The village of Kou looks onto one of Japan’s busiest seaways, connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan. A thousand ships pass each day and night. Among them are ships which once carried copper ore from Tasmania to Japan, one of its most important customers.
With the help of a group of local fisherman, farmers and volunteers I made a vivid orange net large enough to cover an abandoned house and storehouse in the village. Together we wrapped 900 objects with fragments of fabric found inside the house. Later, during a 2011 residency at LARQ (Land Art Research Queenstown) Tasmania, I worked at various local sites–the Mt Lyell Copper Mine; a deserted hydro village at nearby Lake Margaret; and the river junction of the Queen and King Rivers.
Copper is the conduit connecting the histories of people, trade and industry of the two places. Iinvestigated the history of the site, as well as the materials and type of activity that make up the sites’ identity, thereby working through the links between daily experience, place, aesthetics and nature.