and notes on death
Hello, welcome to the third digest from the Forest Portal 🌱
A place for sharing occasional updates and musings on the growing project ‘Conversations with the Forest’.
I had started to write this note to you all about different ways of listening but then recently as I was heading in to the Surfers studio I was surprised to see a gap, a gap in a place where I always see a big tree covered in stag horns, this tree is on private property as you enter Surfers Paradise, between the river and the highway, it has been a kind of marker for me, a way to start my day when I am on my way to the studio. This tree was part of the original Surfers rainforest and would have been over 100 years old, and now it’s gone…
I have been thinking about all of the memories this tree held, not just the many different people who have lived nearby who may have climbed, been shaded by, and shared oxygen and carbon with the tree. I have also been thinking about what the tree has seen over time, watching, sensing and listening as the city has grown from the sand, how the trees neighbours would have changed from other tree species into a footpath and highway, an apartment block, a tramline, and sounds shifted from a complex ecology of bird species, distant waves and wind through leaves to todays sounds of speed boats on one side and the continuous rumble of cars on the other.
I wanted to write about this death, to remind myself of the fragility of the world, a reminder to take notice of the trees that are still here, to take a moment to honour this being that is no longer. To remember this life. I think that in order to let go of anger we need to acknowledge the tragedy of these losses that are happening as humans force landscapes to shift and in a way I feel that through sharing this loss with you we can bring the memory of this tree to life.
I want to imagine a world where value is not solely based on profitability of space but also considers the value of a non-human life purely for existence, I want to imagine a world where we are aware of our deep relationality to trees, our symbiosis with plants, everyday I want to remember that my own existence is completely reliant on the aliveness of the plants around me.
This destruction brought up anger and sadness in me, so since then I’ve been thinking about what is in my power to support some of the remnant trees and how I can shift this feeling of sadness into care?
A couple of days ago I was sitting underneath one of these trees nearby my studio, a huge Blueberry Ash tree, at the side of a carpark, around the tree are some tiny seedlings attempting to reach the sunlight but being crowded out by overgrown grass, weeds and rubbish. So while it is impossible to bring back the old tree that was cut down, if anyone would like to join me I thought on Jan 26 (invasion day), we could go and do some weeding and removing rubbish from below the Blueberry Ash. The plan is to meet at my studio at 10am, bring some gloves, covered shoes and a hat, we’ll pick up some rubbish and pull out some weeds. Reply to this email if you want to join.
On another note — at the end of last year, I moved the studio from Cavill Lane to the 4217 building, at 10 Beach Rd. I am still settling in to the new studio, but in exciting news a whole seedling tray of baby ferns have sprouted over the summer, and this week the studio is open for drop ins, shoot me an email if you want to drop by.
In process this week:
📖 Reading: The Mushroom at the End of the World, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
👂 Listening: The ecology of perception
🌱 Propagating: Blueberry Ash, Sandpaper Fig and Tree Ferns.
❓ Asking: what memories do trees hold?
‘Conversations with the Forest’ is being developed with GENERATE GC, an initiative of City of Gold Coast in partnership with Situate Art in Festivals (TasDance), and is proudly supported by City of Gold Coast RADF, Cavill Lane Surfers Paradise and Creative Partnerships Australia MATCH Lab.