After the sudden death of my grandmother, my grandfather left his family temporarily to work in the mines on the south-west coast of Tasmania. I never met him. He once told my mother he would ‘run over you myself’ if she stood in front of bulldozers in protest against the construction of the major and controversial dam project, the Gordon-below-the-Franklin Dam. The dam would flood a world heritage listed rainforest in the south-west and after ongoing protests and legal challenges, it was announced that the dam would not be allowed to proceed.
Shortly after, a 2500-year-old Huon Pine, known as the Lea Tree, was vandalized by pro-dam interests. A symbol for the conservationists, the tree was chainsawed, holes were drilled into it to pour oil into its roots and finally, it was set on fire. The trunk was scrawled with the words ‘FUCK YOU GREEN CUNTS’ before the perpetrators photographed themselves in front of the still-burning tree. The resulting photograph was then sent to one of the conservation organisations.
Huon is inspired by the conflicts we come into with one another over protecting or exploiting the natural world. The tensions that underpin these apparent dichotomies are not black and white but instead coloured by traditions, livelihoods and community. Reinforced by notions of how we want to live and the means by which we can, this work traces the marks we leave on the earth, ourselves and each other.