Alan Tulloch, Haunt (Performance), Video, 6.24m, Photography by Alan Tulloch, 2015
Artist Alan Tulloch attended the 2015 Bimblebox art, science, nature camp. In his own words here’s Alan’s Bimblebox story:
I approached working at the Bimblebox Artist Camp with a few ideas for site related artworks but I did not want to disallow being site responsive, triggering my interest in native plants. Fortunately, I found that both approaches were possible.
Participants came to the camp in the glow of a red light, that the threat of coal mining proposed for the area was stalled and could be shelved due to coal’s current commodity price. As I write this account one month later, the mining threat has been restarted with the Federal Government’s re-approval for mining in the Galilee Coal Basin.
Before travelling to Bimblebox, I had conceived of the artwork “Haunt”, using an image of the Galilee Coal Basin to suggest that the threat of mining may never go away. (I have to acknowledge that even economically non-viable projects can become viable with alternate technology.) Ironically, the shape of the coal basin is quite organic, hinting at embryonic life rather than death.
“Haunt” has its life as a performative installation. Images of the Galilee Basin were ‘dry screen printed’, using coal dust, onto Bimblebox soil around the camp’s common space, with the coal’s threat being magnified through rhythmic patterns and through images sidling up to fixtures, as if being friendly. These images dissipated into the soil over a short period of time, aided by daily footprints, tyre tracks, wind etc. Even when images disappeared, there was the lingering knowledge that the coal had simply become invisible, perhaps sinking to the vast coal basin below, but, more likely, liable to being whipped up by winds, maintaining its threat.
I have been creating artworks with coal for over 5 years, commemorating the good will of early coal miners, acknowledging the mixed will in our daily appetite for burning fossil fuels and looking to the future where we may not need to burn coal. Coal is a link to former life on Earth and my coal-based art aims to use coal’s qualities with as many enlightenments as I can conjure.
Since returning to my studio, I have two other coal-based artworks inspired by Bimblebox to create, each exploring relationships between coal and the life of Bimblebox. Using coal as an art material is a bit like fighting fire with fire but with the advantage that my use of coal is contemplative, producing art that has more substance than odd back-burning activities.