Above Savage River, 2017
These landscape images were captured using a lensless Pinhole Camera and 4x5 Black & White film.
In the spring of 2016 I travelled to Tasmania`s north-west to an area known as the Tarkine wilderness. The Tarkine is one of the last areas of untouched ancient forest in Tasmania. I had been reading about the discovery of Van Diemen`s Land (Tasmania) and its subsequent colonial history and wanted to slow my image taking right down in order to reflect on the past and to connect with the unchanged landscape surrounding me. The Pinhole Camera with its long exposures helped with this process.
The settlement of Van Diemen`s Land began with the establishment of a penal colony in the south in the early 1800`s. Transport to Van Diemen`s Land was considered to be a sentence to the “very ends of the earth” from which there was little chance of survival, let alone any return to European civilization.
I was intrigued by the early accounts of seafarer`s and mariners from the 17th century who described the island`s interior as being an area of “impenetrable forest”. This conjured up yet another frontier. A boundary between the barely known and the totally unknown. A fortress wall of ancient trees behind which anything might lie in the minds of these seafaring visitors.
For many years the principle means of travel was by ship around the edge of the island. With brutal & savage conditions in the penal colony there was very little for a convict to lose when contemplating escape. Escaped convicts were therefore some of the first Europeans to venture across the frontier and journey into the islands interior.
In today`s connected world it is almost impossible to grasp how these escaped convict/explorers felt as they made their way ill prepared into the forest with little or no equipment. Perhaps they felt euphoric from their escape before a gradual realization of their predicament set in. To cut their way day after day through an endless unfamiliar landscape untouched by European hands. The overbearing sense of isolation…
I try to imagine the experiences of these explorers. To see through their eyes. I move over the very same untouched land but I`m insulated in a very different experience. I wear thermal clothes and waterproof boots. I carry a water bottle and a sandwich. I occupy the same space yet my perception of this very same land are light years apart. Were they alive, the stories these convict explorers could tell.
I`m reminded of Rutger Hauer`s character in the Ridley Scott film, Blade Runner;
“I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain”
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