Day 8 - Sunday 16 November 2008

Itís windy again, and has been on and off all night. Itís also raining. I get out of bed at about 8am and head off to Q3 for breakfast and to find out the news about whether or not we will get off the island today. I get hailed on during the 5-minute walk and donít feel to confident about our chances of leaving today, but, once inside the warmth that is the kitchen of Q3 I get the news that we are indeed going. A different helicopter will be sent. One that is much heavier and its on its way scheduled for a 10am landing and 10.30 departure, the first load being for rubbish, bags and equipment, with us, the people, leaving on the second.

I have some breakfast, thereís no cereal left so its coffee and boiled wholemeal oats before heading back to my living quarters in Q2 to pack up. Once packed, I carry my stuff back up to Q3 and its all hands on deck for the big clean up. My first job is to get into some dishwashing, and the wiping down of all of the benches. Itís still windy and raining outside but there are also moments of calm, yet another typical four-seasons-in-a-day on Tasman.

The chopper arrives 10 minutes early so we get to work lugging our gear and equipment and the bagged up linoleum from the back of Q2 down to where the helicopter sling net is waiting. Once fully loaded, Kiwi Frank, our chopper pilot, takes off with our load bound for Safety Cove. He swirls around a bit by the wind and away he slowly disappears into the distance.

As a group, we all head off together over to the weather station, a short walk of about 2-3 minutes behind Q3, and repair the tail that had broken off. A replacement had been bought over by the chopper after we had called the Bureau of Meteorology earlier in the week and suggested to them that we could make the repair if the replacement came out on the first flight. Itís a little tricky to manoeuvre the weather station equipment because it is up a long pole in the air but mostly because the wind is so strong but eventually we get it down, repair it and hoist it back into place within no time.

Finally, its back to Q3 for all of us, shortly afterwards the chopper arrives again. I take some images of the interior of Q3 before John, Pat, Bob and I load ourselves into the chopper. Iím lucky enough to get the front seat so I take a lot photographs as we travel the short journey back to mainland Tasmania. My time on Tasman has ended.

The drive back to West Hobart seems like a long one and everyone is a little quiet. It's been a wondrous, adventurous, hard working, most enjoyable week unlike I've had in along time. Tasman truly is a special place.

What we have done feels like a great thing; the conservation of a part of the cultural history of Tasmania that has been rapidly deteriorating. There is so much work to be done there and I feel the need to go back and do more. What started as a trip to focus on drawing has turned into a trip that has focussed heavily on myself. This place has changed what I think of myself, what life is and what is important about it. I have a feeling of a greater sense of purpose by doing something that has made a difference, and its located with an environment saturated with amazing views, a variety of nature and wildlife, spectacular scenery, caring and learning about a place, responding to a place, and being with others who feel very similar about the same place. I still donít truly understand it but something within me has been awakened. Something that makes a lot of sense, feels right and is worthy of pursuing. Its strange that something should feel so right, it makes me want to focus more on this place, and on my drawing and giving it meaning. Perhaps my youth of excessive imbibing and feeling tired has reached its climax and a new journey in life is beginning. What is it about the grass, the interiors, the sounds, the changing weather patterns, the sense of being halfway in the clouds and halfway out to sea, way above sea level and the distorted space that being on a place like this does to you? What is it about being on this place that plants calmness, stillness and unease? What historical and geographical interventions has time done to make it this way through the slow movements of water over a long period of time, of the fast bashing of water against the rock, of Tasman Island time, in the buckets of water shifted from one place to the other over the over, of rusty old seals, of muddy sludge, veracious winds, rickety old ladders, piles of bricks, broken asbestos, old nails, rotten piping, wind damaged guttering, old pots, buckets, bath tubs, electrical cords, a pair of sparrows nesting high in an old water tank who peer over the edge of the tank to view Cape Pillar and the Blade, white rope tying ladders off, the shadow of the lighthouse, pulling out weeds, digging into soil, fat juicy worms, a old mattock and pitchfork, white bags for seeds, bulbs, Russian garlic, wild radish and turnips, arum lilies and their little bulbs spread deep across the soil, little pathways through the thick bracken in triangular formations, hidden daffodils, aching back, extracting the dead long grass and pulling up blackberry bushes, finding spiders, pulling up linoleum, more white bags, old scales, 40kgs, old newspapers and magazines from the 1960ís, boras holes moulding tree patterns in the linoleum and cardboard, dust masks, and gardening gloves, legionnaires hats, sweat, dusty hair, dirty hands, sun cream, cups of tea, warm scones, cereal and milk, salami, salads, biscuits, chocolate, cutting into trees, straightening old pathways, clearing bushes, extracting the past through an exploration of the present, stories of old days, stories of childhoods, of people going missing, ships in distress, and getting lost in the bush, dried apples and sultanas, unfamiliar names of people, places, and plants, anecdotes of history, memories, life, reasoning, moving furniture, sorting through magazines, familiar stories, new explorations, mending broken windows, measuring accurately and cutting out templates, sitting silently, watching, counting people at various times Ė who is here, are we all here, who is missing, who is coming or going, what are people doing. Is there 6 out of 9 around, or only 3 out of 9, 1 out of 9, or 9 out of 9, the complexity of frequently counting and wanting togetherness or separateness, walking in the moonlight alone in the darkness, glancing to the side in the stillness, rattle of the missing window replacement, the humming of the fence post, the whistling of the wind, glancing at first light, head under the covers, half open half closed, sleeping bag, fluorescent lights, hidden snacks, rotting timber, cupboard draws that stick, empty cupboards and filled in spaces, broken covers, empty mattresses, smoke alarms, recharging batteries, changing light, apples and oranges, marmalade and jam, beef stew, drying up dishes, boiling water and compost.

I went into this landscape to draw, to think about the notion of performative drawing, as a one-off adventure, and as a way to explore further and absorb the island. I came away with little drawing after lots of conservation work and walking. I feel like I have really absorbed the place and explored it extensively seeing many new facets of the island that I had only heard about previously. I am still struggling to understand or rather respond to the performative notion. Is my intervention into this place and the eventual translation of it through my memories, photos and drawing the performance of the work? Or is this a little lame and indirect? I thought a lot about line whilst on the island, of line that is man made and of line that is natural. What is drawing and what is performance? Is this line a potential way of defining drawing, performance and landscape? What man made or natural line can I use back in the studio? The transformation of the outdoors indoors through the drawn line, the performative line through a performed detachment with constructed line, or a measured line and a conversation with a line of organic flow. Is the act of drawing through this landscape the performance of memory of place? Is this an intervention into place and line? I really didnít expect this experience to be as unproductive for my drawing even though I have taken over 1,800 photos, many of which consider line consciously at the moment of taking them. I didnít think that my presence in this landscape would block my drawing. It did however provide much sensual/sensory experiences. There was plenty to absorb through colour, light, space, depth, scale, sound, self, interactions, improvements, and explorations that conjure up performative undertones within place. The intention is to transfer this into line back in the studio, bringing the outdoors in, to allude to a sensory outdoor experience, or the presence of my performed interaction in place.

What daily performances were undertaken whilst on Tasman?
Waking up, checking out the light out of my window, eating apricot squares, taking photos in front of landscapes, writing in my diary in the latter part of the day, walking along a mown pathway with a spring in my step, eating cereal, drinking coffee or tea, drying dishes, counting people, reviewing the weather, walking, working, thinking about where you are, exploring what you are thinking, feeling fear at night, sleeping, filling water in buckets, old hallways and laundries, walking along paths, looking at clouds, feeling the dirt, looking at a lighthouse, looking out to sea, looking at the grass, looking off the edges of cliffs, being in a cloud, being in air, moving old rusty water tanks, looking through dark windows, whistling, rustling, rattling old houses, strange fluorescent lights, writing stories, listening to stories, and the wind swirling around. The landscape itself does most of the performing and I simply interact with it. I am simply immersed in its smells, sounds, movements, sights, through treading on it, touching it, digging it, finding my through it, drinking it, cleaning it, carrying it, moving it around, picking it, photographing it, transferring it, caring for it, cutting it, poisoning it, tracing it, thinking and writing about it, and drawing it.