Art Aviso – 1.5 Degrees

The whirlwind of data and opinion surrounding climate change can be overwhelming; how do we form something meaningful and informative out of all of the figures, news, opinions and anxiety surrounding this topic?

Art connects us to the problem in a felt way, it encourages engagement, deep thinking, problem-solving and questioning.

The title of this exhibition (1.5 Degrees) comes from the challenge of the global community to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees (above pre-industrial levels). It is about the science of climate change, communicated in diverse and intriguing ways.

17 Artist from across Australia explore our relationship to the planet, through explorations of the juncture between science and art, and the very human response to the looming threat of climate change.

CURATOR NOTES  |  Autumn Tansey – Guest Curator (ABOUT)  |  ABOUT ART AVISO

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HEATHER MATTHEW - What the Sea Leaves


What the Sea Leaves and Fiery Embers are works created as a direct response to being affected by floods and bushfires in Australia and seeing first-hand the results of glacier melt during my artist residency in Iceland.

Both sets of works use paper pulp embedded with burnt leaves and ash which were washed up by the tides in northern NSW following the bushfires in early November.

What the Sea Leaves has been created using paper pulp from cotton sheets donated to flood affected families in Townsville which has been overlaid into remnants of a discarded fishing net sourced from my local Pottsville Beach.

Fiery Embers is made from pulped torn up papers which were damaged during the flooding of my Murwillumbah art studio in March 2017. This pulp was manipulated into sculptural installations using remnants from the same fishing net and includes crushed papers dyed with ink stitched onto a cloth strip torn from a hi-vis shirt and orange pulp made from this cloth. These reference the emergency service workers who are called to help during climate change disasters. This shirt was also sourced from donations to the Salvation Army in Townsville following the flood in early 2019.

These materials carry the energy of places affected by climate change. They are entangled into sections of the washed up fishing net which has been mended and re-mended. It is a metaphor for our planetary interconnectedness and speaks of the hopeful efforts to address and mend this climatic emergency.

Artist Statement: 

Paper forms the basis of my art, it is both my material and my passion. Much of my work features collages and folded artist books using my own handmade banana paper. In 2017 my papermaking art studio was flooded in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie. This provided an opportunity to create work about climate change using flood affected papers.

Primarily I make paper with banana fibre from locally grown banana trees. I was one of three artists bequeathed the equipment and techniques to make banana paper from a retiring Japanese papermaker. He taught us the eastern method of making paper which is a one step process of drying paper on the mould without pressing it. 

While banana paper is my foundational medium, I also use cotton and fabric from recycled clothing and bed linen, especially to embed meaning into an art project. Choosing the type of fibre becomes part of the papers story. When making my most recent work about climate change I created paper from cotton workmen’s shirts and bed sheets donated to the families who were affected by floods in north Queensland. To this paper pulp I added soot and burnt leaf inclusions which were washed onto the beach after the rolling succession of Australian bushfires. 

Stitched paper collages connect me to my matrilineal lineage, but are expressed in the rough and imperfect, with loose threads often tangled and left hanging. These collages embed my thoughts to a time and place and have become my default artistic practice.

PRICE: $330


Heather Matthew
Mixed Medium with handmade paper and found rope