Parallel Silences is a visual response to the dichotomy that exists in Styx Valley, Tasmania, where fertile old growth forest lives opposite the remains of logged fields.
Mary Sutherland’s small scale paintings are windows into the torn and scarred remains of a punctured land. Her images of decimation are gently wrapped and protected within thick wax. Sutherland’s use of wax is to visually and physically distance the viewer from the image, whilst preserving and housing the remains as used in the tradition of religious reliquary. The inclusion of hospital wristbands suggest the vulnerability and relinquished responsibility exercised when a ‘duty of care’ is necessarily given to another.
Sutherland is also concerned with silence. Due to poisons and lack of vegetation, few plants or animals survive within the logged areas. She draws a connection between the silence of the logged areas and the voices of public protest, which are now being muted by legal actions such as “SLAPPS” (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation).
Logged areas with their poisoned and hollow stumps offer a stark contrast to the lush, moist forest which exist alongside. It’s a quiet modus vivendi between the virile greenness of a lush forest as it inhales…beside an exhaling arboreal corpse.
Mary Sutherland is a Melbourne based artist. This is her first solo exhibition.
1. Sharon Beder, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, SLAPPs: Coming to a Controversy Near You, Current Affairs Bulletin 72(3), October/November 1995, pp. 22-29.