WHEN Rosalind Lawson stands next to the 500-million-year rock formations at Anakie Gorge, she becomes suddenly aware of the fleeting nature of human life.
And yet, the Napoleons papermaker and paper artist muses, humans have been able to create so much disorder in the natural world during their brief stint on planet Earth.
Lawson will open her latest solo exhibition Anakie Gorge: A Living Museum this Saturday, telling the story of the Brisbane Ranges through paintings and rock sculptures.
When you’re sitting (at Anakie Gorge), an amazing breeze comes through and it whispers in your ear all the stories of the gorge.- Rosalind Lawson, papermaker and paper artist
The area was born with violent eruptions under the sea that forced watery sediments into “anticlines”.
She said although the Wathaurong people occupied the area for thousands of years, the problems came with European colonisation and the demand for water from the Geelong settlements.
The area was claimed as a catchment area and dammed to support the new colony.
“The Anakie Gorge is one of our regional fantastic ranges. I’ve always considered it to be like the history of everything,” she said.
“You stand there and contemplate your short life with that 500-million years and feel a little bit sad about how humans have wrecked our natural environment.”
Lawson brings her earthy images together by sketching for hours on-site – never taking photos. She then uses oil on canvas with a watercolour technique and natural tones to bring Anakie Gorge to life.
She said she hopes when people first see her work, they think it’s actual rock and become as inspired by nature as she is.
“I’ve noticed when you’re sitting in the gorge, an amazing breeze comes through and it whispers in you ear all the stories of the gorge. It’s terribly romantic but you have to spend a bit of time there to experience it,” she said.
Lawson said she loved the aesthetic of geology, but also how it gave “an incredible sense of time”.
“Underlying this is an environmental message about how humans use water,” she said.
“Overseas, Berlin doesn’t use any water from its rivers. It uses tank water or recycled water. I think that’s pretty impressive, and I wonder why Ballarat can’t do that.”
The exhibition will open on Saturday at The Lost Ones in Camp Street, with a launch at 3pm with poet Barry Breen and music by the Ballarat U3A Celtic Band. All welcome.
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