Virginia Woods-Jack

Artist's experience during her residency at K’gari, Australia

Controlled Burn, which is exhibiting as part of Women in Photography -Lay of the Land comes from the series ‘None of this was done with us in mind’ created during a residency on K’gari (Fraser Island), just off the east coast of Australia.

In the 70’s visitor numbers were in the low thousands; awarded World Heritage status for its unique natural qualities in 1992 each year has seen a steady rise in visitors with predicted numbers in 2020, pre covid, expected to exceed 800,000.

The residency was made of days and nights of creating work from dawn into the dark, total immersion into a space unknown to me prior to arriving.

From the minute we arrived there was a palpable sense of each of the elements being connected to the other, the fundamental cycles of life and the deep time of nature were so present and superseded the fleeting presence of humans. My very presence bore home how vulnerable these environments are to the devastation we as humans exact. I created a large amount of work in many formats, responding to what I was seeing and reading but more so to what I felt. This work hasn’t let me go. Something in the unsayability of the experience and the images made on K’gari keeps drawing me back, like a reoccurring dream. The frequent revisiting of this work and the mining of this archive of images has revealed itself as a work that delves into memory, how we create them and preserve them, and how ultimately they aren’t fixed, rather they are fluid and iterative.

This work also considers the fragile nature of the relationship between humans and the more than human world and whether our desire to control is integral to the climate crisis we are now facing.

My thoughts have often wandered to K’gari this year as Covid will have given it a beat to rest and carry on without our intervention and to my mind that has helped to soften feelings of isolation from family and loved ones overseas.

Virginia Woods-Jack