Commissioned by Tourism Victoria to produce a work of art inspired by the rural Gippsland region of south-eastern Victoria for their “Inspired by Gippsland” campaign, renowned Melbourne artist Corey Thomas sought inspiration from the natural beauty of the local landscape.
A week spent in the wilds of the Croajingolong National Park - a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve - allowed Thomas to immerse himself in the diverse ecosystems of the area and develop an understanding and knowledge of the natural resources he would be using for the project.
Moved by the strange, beautiful loneliness of the region and intrigued by some grasses he found that started playing on his mind, Thomas came up with the idea of building a giant Spinifex sculpture using raw materials he discovered during his time in the wilderness.
The tumbleweeds of historic Western movies are usually associated with isolation and desolation but can also be seen as representing rebirth, renewal and dispersal. Best described as a “plant dispersal unit”, the Spinifex of Australia perform the same seed spreading function but differ from most tumbleweeds in that they are only part of the plant as opposed to the whole plant.
Assembled in the outdoors using ladders and a hoist system, once complete, the sculpture was air-lifted by helicopter to its final resting place of the expansive Gippsland sand dunes. Placed in such a vast expanse of emptiness, the giant sculpture remains small and insignificant in the context of the space it occupies – only revealing its true size to those who make the pilgrimage to see it.
As well as being a beautiful and spectacular interpretation of the Gippsland landscape, Thomas’s sculpture is also a reminder of the fact that our personalities and characters really only exist when defined in the context of the matrix of people we are connected with.
See how the “Spinifex” sculpture was created in the video below