Palimpsest is something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.
Essentially, this is a creative community engagement project about hope. To remind us that in the worst of times, we must remember to hold onto hope.
I am interested in the way the layers of the city, the season’s music scene, theatrical productions and arthouse films are advertised on bill posters. The layers of paper, peeled by wind & rain create accidental artworks.
In reHeal (Palimpsest), a version of these accidental artworks is created by the artist using imagery of the natural landscape, and audience participation creates new, unique works with each interaction.
The concept was born at the start of the pandemic, when I imagined cities around the world closing down, but all the bill posters of events that would never happen, remaining on the streets, tunnels and walls, fading, warping and peeling. A memory of the lost energy of cultural activities that never happened. As I began to conceptualise how I could create an interactive artwork, I discovered that printing images in full colour would be cost prohibitive at this stage. Instead, I could print the images in black and white, and hand colour them, much like photos were traditionally hand coloured before colour film.
Nine large boards are prepared with hand coloured black & white images. The first layer of paper is pasted to the board, with hand made wheat paste. A second layer is glued to the first, with deliberate air pockets left.
Palimpsest creates space for deliberate interactions, inviting the community to pick and peel the layers of paper, to create accidental artworks. It is not often that audiences are ‘allowed’ to interact, let alone be encouraged to touch and ‘destroy’ artworks.
I encourage the audience to peel the top layer of ‘fear’ (an enlarged black and white photo of burnt tree bark) to reveal ‘hope’ (an enlarged black and white, hand coloured photo of native flowers ).
I have launched a version of this project five times in community engagement events on the South Coast of NSW. Previously the images have been user submitted photos, images of Black Summer. I have presented the project as this healing interactive project and have had very positive feedback about the physicality and enjoyment of being able to interact with an artwork, and the accessibility and the opportunity for it to create a safe gentle space to talk.
Would you like this project in your community?