- Excellence Award 2009
- Nursing Rocks 2009-10
- I'd Rather Be (picture book) 2008
- The Learning Circles 2008
- Toddler Totem Trails 2007
- From Dreamtime to Sorrytime 2008
- River of Reflections 2007
- Nativity Scene 2006
- Sun Canticle II 2006
- Primordial Garden II 2006
- Paradise Garden II 2006
- Parkland Petals 2006
- Foyer Piece - Woodlands Van Park 2006
- The Welcome Wall 2005
- Well Travelled Trunks 2004
- Mosaic Tables JCU Campus 2002
- McCoral Reef Mural 2002
- McCoral Reef Play Area 2002
- Sample Ashton 2D works
- Ashton art works 3D
- Comments welcome
Well Travelled Trunks - An Ephemeral Public Art Installation for James Cook University 2004-2006.
The annual preparation for cyclone season weather in tropical North Queensland demands quite brutal lopping of large trees that might fall onto power lines or houses. The Well Travelled Trunks project made use of approximately 50 sections which had been lopped and removed from their growth place to a tree graveyard on the outskirts of the city. The various timber types were reassembled into a faux forest and decorated in colurful themes.... The Outback Tree, The Reef Tree, Chinese Dragon Tree, Recycle Your Rubbish Tree, The Faithful Tree, The Ebony~Ivory Tree, THe Wizard of Aus Tree and The Tree of Ages. They existed in this artificial assemblage for 3 years in a garden on-campus. Some trunk sections remain as seating for students.
These wooden sections have come to rest in a foreign assemblage. They are Well-Travelled Trunks indeed.
Once part of disparate growth gardens they have been brought together to create a Frankenstein forest. Unlike the bower bird’s harmless urge to collect and to decorate its habitat, our species has dominated countless others
since first standing erect.
Hewn before this final stand was ever conjured as an artwork,
wood chipping mulch and slatted crates were the fates that awaited them. Too imperfect for Christmas card paper,
too irregularfor timber flooring,
some were destined for the hectichacking of wood-chopping events unleashed at the annual show,
yielding medals for the men who broke them the fastest ….
others simply lopped for human convenience.
Totems of time levelled with force..
Through surgically assisted positioning the logs and boughs comply. Metal rods, glues, bolts and screws support their static pose
in a vain attempt to re-create nature’s secret wisdom …
the wisdom that witnessed corroboree shadows
of the Bindal and Wulgurukaba people
and Torres Strait Islander Ailankastom.
Instinctively these growth rings once summonsed water
into rising trunks quenching arborial thirst with liquid life. Mango and palm, poinciana and mahogany, ironbark,
eucalypt and fig, now reside as disjointed growth rings
in stacked stumps and circular clumps.
Adorning the log surfaces are quirky circus-like ceramic patterns made from the symbolic residue
and trinkets of human presence.
Familiar orbs sparkle and dangle on steel arcs like exotic fruit.
These tropical treats, encased with frivolity,
echo ancestral seeds, which drifted to
and stitched our shorelines, river ways and cliffs together.
We call this assemblage art and we made it with care and creativity but there are roots aching silently in soil, clay, rock and sand
where once, not so long ago,
they anchored tall trunks and proud boughs.
Bark murmurings have ceased their intricate tapestries.
The time-capsuled forms dangle and wait.
arched in a suspended hibernation, longing to sprout,
and salinity grins with satisfaction.
Our inadequate but timely tribute is to plant new seedlings
in place of the fallen.
The saplings are within view, young and fresh and leafy.
May they grow tall and sturdy and bud with brilliant colour
to compensate the chain-sawed sections that once transformed sunlight into oxygen, inviting winged, clawed and segmented tenants. They no longer house native fauna but satiate the human hunger to reform and reorder.
Could it be that art is little more than aesthetically-driven destruction?
View these Well-Travelled Trunks and Tropical Treats.
Touch and enjoy them … sit with them … on them …
move among them
and contemplate our own fateas living beings.
They will serve us well in this shady space,
past the point of no return, in their new faux forest grandeur …
but pause to sense their collective memories
and disrupted dreaming
as living trees.
Some public art is designed for long term display while other forms, often made from more environmentally friendly media, are ephemeral. The Well-Travelled Trunks were installed with an estimated shelf life of about 5 years. The wooden sections, though concreted in place with metal supports and strong non-rusting bolts, were no match for the local white ant population. Without poisonous spiking of the area, the trunks deteriorated after 3 years and were decommissioned in 2006. In the first year some of the colorfully decorated coconuts on metal arcs were vandalised .... too tempting for visitors whose sporting prowess was somewhat limited - branch swinging! Some of the wooden seats remain along the curved path. During the first two years of the display everything looked pristine and permanent, and maintenance of the area was quite regular. Once the log sections began to go fade and return to the earth, the illusion of permanence was lost ... so too maintenance diminished proportionately. It's interesting to listen to and observe public and institutional opinion about what public art should look like and how long it should last.