SCANZ 2013: Thinking outside, becoming of place, and creating the world

Authors: Tamsin Kerr and Ross Annels


Western society in the past considered thinking as a thing for expert brains to do inside an ivory tower, separated from the creativity of the hand and the ecology of every place. Environmental art begins to address this balance by making an outside haptic materiality matter, by beginning to approximate a more indigenous understanding. How might such approaches become more mainstream and would it make a difference to how we lived in and imagined the world? We understand the world and our human place within it very differently if we think outside, forget, the box.

We focus on some examples of artists and thinkers who have visited, inhabited, and taught at the Cooroora Institute, a place that aims to sing the song of the earth through creative practice. These include painters, sculptors, craftspeople, artisans, musicians, dancers, writers, Indigenous, environmental, and sound artists. Such practical emplacement relocates thinking to an accessible collaboration with country, using both visual and sound texts, unlimited by translation. Perhaps this thinking outside, becoming place, creating country is what forms the basis for much indigenous practice of living, and perhaps it is accessible to all? We begin to know our more-than-human self, to appreciate an active sentience of country, to form partnerships with the flow of the river and the call of the birds, to create an ecological life, through the creative practice of thinking outside.