This work is part of Winsome Jobling’s 2018 series of works in paper entitled Chatter. The works are made using handmade papers, drypoint prints and stitching. During the paper making process watermarks, poured pulps and stencilled earth pigments and copy toner are added. Paper fibres include; gamba grass, spear grass, stringy bark, native kapok, devils ivy, abaca and kozo.
Six hectares of bushland at Berrimah that I visit lies between Charles Darwin National Park and the Darwin Speedway and is a microcosm of the whole Top End landscape. The savannah forest slides into mangrove on one side and into a low wet pandanus swamp on the other. There are magical places; a small rocky escarpment, a small bowl-shaped valley – cool and quiet and a circle of cycads on a little hill.
For the past 15 years it has been a place to think, research and to collect dyes pigments and plant fibres. It is a place to re-seed and regenerate, but also despair as the invasive weed Gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus) extends further or another fridge or pile of building material is dumped.
This remnant of bushland has colonies of Sand Palm (Livistona humilis) and age-old cycads that grow under a canopy of mainly Stringy Bark trees (Eucalyptus tetrodonta). They hustle together in groups or colonies like families, from first born to elders – strength in numbers!
Anchored in ancient, lateritic and nutrient poor soils both species have spindly, scaly trunks, tough water conserving leaves, and scratchy prickly souls.
The Northern Territory Threatened Species Network lists Cycas armsrtongii as vulnerable in the Top End as the few remaining colonies are in conservation reserves and threatened by the hot and high fires of introduced Gamba and Mission Grass (Cenchrus spp.).
By respecting the natural world with a greater empathy, our interactions might be tempered by a deeper understanding rather than viewing the world as an exploitable object.
The fibres I use to make paper are mainly sourced locally from both native and exotic plants. The Chatter papers are primarily made from local natives; Spear Grass (Sorghum intrans), Stringy Bark, Banyan (Ficus virens), Kapok (Cochlospermum fraseri) and the introduced Gamba Grass. I have also used Abaca (Musa textilis) and Devils Ivy (Epipremnum aureum).
The earth pigments I use are sourced from all over the Northern Territory. All are the worn-down grains from ancient geology. The charcoal is from bushfires, the ‘bones’ of bushland.
My work is both a collaboration with the natural world and a haptic response to our impact on it. My ideas, imagery and materials search for the internal energy and rhythms of the landscape of the Top End.
Winsome Jobling 2018 (Extract from Chatter catalogue essay)