Stories are transported across time and continents; distorted histories that may or may not have happened take on a different form in different lands. Through the distortion of history new meanings are created.
Artists and visitors alike had to travel to this work, ferried by Sea Cadets across the sea, enacting an expedition as both ethnographers and enablers of a new story. The island became a 'ground' for this shared experience; examined and experienced at various points, and in all the spaces in-between. Knowledge is periodically and temporarily revealed.
The Cave | Walker & Bromwich
The following tale is a Scottish Story brought to Quarantine Island:
Robert the Bruce was crowned King of Scotland in 1306 and henceforth tried to free Scotland from the English.
After being defeated six times in battle, Bruce escaped and found a hideout in a cave. Hiding in a cave for three months, Bruce was at the lowest point of his life. He thought about leaving Scotland and never coming back.
While waiting, he watched a spider building a web in the cave's entrance. The spider fell down time after time. Finally, on the seventh attempt, the spider succeeded with his web. Inspired, Bruce gathered himself for his own, seventh attempt.
He told his men: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again".
Taking as a starting point the story of Robert the Bruce’s epiphanic encounter with a spider, we set out to discover new histories created through the exchange of stories in a cave perched on the edge of the intertidal zone created through time and tides somewhere between fact and fiction.
We are going to try to discover a new species of seaweed on Quarantine Island. It is also possible that we will find invasive seaweeds that didn’t previously live here, perhaps carried by a ship. There are many undiscovered species in and around New Zealand and taxonomy is a dying art.
The process of discovering new species hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years…you need to collect samples, draw them, describe them in detail (measure) and then look them up.
The best place to collect seaweed is the intertidal zone, the point at which the land meets the sea at lowest tide, and looking at different habitats, eg rockpools, beaches.
Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua is the largest island in Otago Harbour, close to the city of Dunedin, New Zealand.
Only one of the quarantine buildings from these years is still
standing, and this has currently begun to be restored. After the
quarantine station closed the island was leased. The present lessee is
the interdenominational St Martin Island Community, founded in 1958 for
work and worship on the island. Since then a great deal of
reforestation and replanting has been done.
The unofficial name of 'St Martin Island' is in common use. In 1996
as part of the Ngai Tahu settlement the name of Kamau Taurua, meaning
'a place to set nets' was restored as part of the official name.
Commissioned in association with Blue Oyster Art Project Space and curated by Caro McCaw and Rachel Gillies. Supported by Otago Polytechnic and with thanks to Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Taste Nature, Bendigo Foundation, Tangente Cafe, Edinburgh College of Art, CNZ Creative Communities.
Walker & Bromwich, Love Cannon, 2006
Zoe Walker & Neil Bromwich work both collaboratively and as individuals. Their combined practice, which reaches across gallery-based installation, digital works, and public interventions, explores the space between real and imagined locations, drawing on the unique atmosphere of specific geographical locations and populations through a wide variety of media. From works such as My Island Home (commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2000), which consisted of the artists sailing a 38 person life raft modelled as a Scottish Island down the River Thames in London, to their commission for the cross-media project T.V. Swansong (2003), in which via digital video broadcast, both artists undertake separate journeys in search of their individual home landscapes as seen through childhood television of the time. Increasingly the work of Walker & Bromwich deals with notions of the socially-engaged, with their work positioned in spaces ranging from forests, hospitals, a remote youth and community centre, broadcasting via the internet, as well as the more traditional public space of a city plaza.
Walker & Bromwich primarily work through the structures of artist residencies and commissioned projects. Recent projects include Love Canon, Les Ateliers des Arques, France (2006), Friendly Frontier, Habitat, London (2005), Sci-Fi Hot Tub Kielder Forest, Scottland (2003), How the Universe Sang Itself into Being, Essex (2004), In Search of a Small Planet, The Baltic, Newcastle; TATE, Liverpool (2002), Portable Paradise, The Collective Gallery, Edinburgh (2001), Somewhere Special, Houldsworth Gallery London (2001) and My Island Home, Victoria and Albert Museum (2000).
Zoe Walker was born in Gartocharn, Scotland and Neil Bromwich in Lincolnshire, England and they both live and work in Berwick upon Tweed, England.