This series is titled OOtaxa: a collective of oolithus*. The pieces consider the trace migration of the extinct Aepyornis maximus, the Elephant Bird, from their native Madagascar to the Western coast of Australia. The fossilised eggs of the giant bird travelled the currents of the Indian Ocean to reach Australia's shores in the nineteenth century.
In this fragile contemporary moment, extinction of all species looms large as time is quickened by our own ebb and flow. Will the Earth, one day travel the currents of the cosmos as a fossil of its former guise?
The use of Kangaroo vellum was in conscious recognition of my location in Australia when forming these pieces and the curious, tragically absurd relationship Australians have with their native species. Both one of awe and demise. These ancient animals are threatened by the contemporary human inhabitants of the island, a mere 250 years after colonisation that disrupted the fragile ecosystem and relation of reciprocity with the land and animals engaged by the indigenous peoples for thousands of years.
I begin the making process by soaking the animal skin or vellum. Using a series of blocks, I then work like a milliner by stretching the wet material around the form, pinning the raw edges in place. The sculpted skins are then left to dry for up to ten days, allowing them to fully harden (hopefully in baking sun) before gently prising them away from the block.
The processes of forming the skin and then removing it from the block are quite labour intensive, and can take up to several hours depending on how fast one works before the skin dries, and then how the hide has been shaped when removing the mould. Each piece is completely unique depending on the size and colour of the skin, and also the way it has been formed when working with the wet material.
The pieces are based on the various sizes of the blocks, from large 500 X 380, to medium 440 X 320. However, due to the individual nature of each skin and sculpted form these sizes will never be exact.
*a fossilised or 'stone' egg