Jill Sampson, Initiator and coordinator of Bimblebox Art Project
Concerned about the resources land grab occurring throughout Australia, artist Jill Sampson thought that a creative response would be the best way to engage with this cultural issue. Whilst living with her young children on her parent’s farm, one of thousands of Qld farms that at that time had a mining exploration lease hanging over it, Jill became acutely aware of the tenuous nature of land ownership in Australia.
In 2012 Jill contacted the Bimblebox Nature Refuge with the idea of developing an art project around that particular threatened environment. This became the Bimblebox Art Project. In 2012 the inaugural artists camp at the Bimblebox Nature Refuge was developed, coordinated and realised with the artist camps continuing annually. The exhibitions Document://Bimblebox, Bimblebox: art – science – nature and Bimblebox 153 Birds have all been developed through the Bimblebox Art Project. While visitors to the Bimblebox artist camps have developed their own bodies of artwork, exhibitions and writing about the Bimblebox Nature Refuge.
Jill Talks about her artwork and process for the Bimblebox Art Project:
“As I grow older my desire to be on the land physically drove my decision to take my children ‘home’ to the farm and is now driving my art. In 2012 my beloved family farm had a mining exploration lease hanging over it.
In Australia we have a culture of forgetting – I want to challenge this culture with my art.
My time on Bimblebox has been a precious gift where I was able to experience a place rare and endangered while attempting to capture something of its nature in my artwork.
Through making work that incorporates elements of Bimblebox Nature Refuge and considering its possible fate, I explored historical references to the land and what is offered or received for a piece of land. The ability of one person to see the land as providing everything that is needed to survive physically, culturally, and emotionally, to another who sees the land as expendable – for profit at any cost. Through my art I was looking for a way to understand where the past fits into the present and how history contains stories and lessons that few are listening to.”
In 2012 Jill began to develop the concept for Bimblebox 153 Birds, beginning in 2013 to call for contributions from artists and writers, while musician and sound artist Boyd called for contributions from musicians for he and Alison Clouston’s installation Coalface. The musician’s bird calls have been mixed by Boyd with the writers audio for Bimblebox 153 Birds.
Bimblebox 153 Birds is a unique installation of artist prints, poetry, prose and musician’s birdcalls. Inspired by the birdlife of the Bimblebox Nature Refuge in Queensland’s Galilee Basin this exhibition brings together the creative contributions of over 440 artists, writers and musicians worldwide.
Curated by Jill Sampson, audio compilation and mixing by Boyd.
Jill’s speech for the opening of Bimblebox: art – science – nature at Manly Art Gallery & Museum, 1 July, 2016, recording by Boyd: