A Transient Landscape - Wild Garden and Earth Stories

An exhibition by Tania Spencer with two distinct bodies of work. One is a wiry immersive installation of menacing overgrown plants that have escaped the confines of the household garden into the southwest forests. The second rustic jewellery, wall works and sculptures reflecting the layers of impermanence of our impact on the landscape.

ArtGeo Gallery

Saturday 29 May 2021 10:00AM -
Sunday 18 July 2021 4:00PM

Tania is based in Lake Grace, Western Australia and combines the textile techniques of embroidery, knit, crochet and weaving with rural and industrial materials. Tania makes large-scale knitted installations, wire drawings and objects from fencing wire and embroiders heavy copper and steel wires onto metal canvases.

Recently her work has shifted to include softer textile interventions in the public domain. Created with brightly coloured surveyors tape, these optimistic new installations are markers on the landscape, industrial signifiers of change and places of activity. She also makes installation work with recycled textiles, plastics and metals for festivals and community projectsTania is available for private commissions and takes sculpture workshop bookings for school and community groups.

Tania was the winner of the Artsts Pick at Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe this year.

Wild Garden

“Weeds of wire” is a simple way to describe this installation, I have used these rope-like knitted forms to show how strong and tough these plants are and how hard they are to eradicate, sort of like pieces of wire on the farm, you will find them everywhere if you are not careful with the offcuts!

While being sensuous in form, I wanted the sculptures convey a sinister and menacing manner, reflecting the environmental problem they have become.

Arum Lilies are vigorous growing, they are very attractive and perhaps this is one of the reasons they have become widespread. People desire them in their gardens, and they grow really well, too well, then need to be divided or dug out and wherever these plants are dumped they start growing. 

The lacy delicate exotic green foliage, attractive white flowers and plump red berries of Bridal Creeper enticing you to plant it in the garden.

It’s wiry resilience, establishing its stranglehold on the environment, twisting, tangling and climbing its way, further expanding the infestation.

Unseen, underground tubers and rhizomes link together, a dense mat endlessly multiplying. The seed dispersal by birds, foxes, and rabbits giving rise to new patches of these insidious weeds.

The creeper drapes and veils native plants.

Native plants, no longer there.


Earth Stories

“Just outside the house yard fence was the farm ‘junkheap’, a large scrap metal pile comprising all the old farming and household implements right back to settlement. It contained seven harvesters, a couple of seeders, a truck, a grader, several cars, other horse drawn machinery, tanks, wood stoves, beds and cooking pots and all sorts of cast off interesting things. Dad was often picking through the metal to select a piece to fix machinery or for his next machinery invention or improvement It was a resource to make new things, nothing was wasted, that’s why it wasn’t at the rubbish tip, This heap is probably what we would call a recycling yard now. Making do with what you had or could find is what I learned and is a large part of my art practice.”

 “This amazing playground was my favourite place to be fossicking through selecting the things to play and build with. Along with my three brothers we dragged header separators, sieves, scarifier tynes, and sets of combine points behind our bikes down to the bush patch and made little farms and cubbyhouses. We took bind-a-twine and wheel spokes to make fences and old china, bottles and tins to put in our cubbies amongst the Mallee and Sheoak trees. We ‘styled’ with the wildflowers from the bush and swept paths with Teatree brooms.”

“Much to Mum’s despair I gathered old bottles, glass, sticks, seeds, leaves, stones as well as metal and welding rods ends from the workshop and hauled them all back home and hid them under my bed. Eventually she gave me a cupboard to house and contain my collections! I still like to pick up these things wherever I go, like a bowerbird as Dad says. They are signifiers of the recollection of a certain place for me.”

Recently I have begun to make jewellery, objects and little landscapes with these precious holders of memories. Seeds and nuts rocks and glass, combined with steel wire and metal, these rustic and raw pieces reflect my travels and lived heritage. These fragments of nature and human artefacts hint of stories of their use or inspire me with their perfectness. I have used humble cold joins and wire forming techniques to emphasise the collected pieces and honour their past life.”

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