Islands of Innocence was a multi-media installation encompassing projection and audio in the old asylum ward replica at the North Stradbroke Island Museum on Minjerribah August 12, 2018.
The islands of Cassim, Lord Howe, Marovo Lagoon in the Solomons and Minjerribah were land and sea-scapes chartered over a period of three months in late 2018 by curator and researcher, Jo Fay Duncan. The media itself references a rich research ecology undertaken over 24 months evident in this Small Islands Blog.
Islands of Innocence followed the 2017 Two Island Tribute installation which explored a development plan intending to build 3500 units over reclaimed land on Nandeebie’s (Cleveland) foreshore. In so doing the intertwined island ecologies of Cassim and Sandy would be decimated. The underwater geologies, ecological diversity and integrity of Cassim and Sandy Islands are such that they were included in Ramsar zoning of 113 314 hectares of Moreton Bay in 1974.
The art-work in Islands of Innocence some 12 months later explores global-wide threats to islands and related habitats which include mining, over population and indeed development. Notions of innocence, ancestry and aesthetics explored in this multi layered media installation are qualities which here stand in the face of these threats. A poetic, an aesthetic disruptor to the bureaucratic monologue about an ‘economic transition strategy’ away from mining on Minjerribah and controversial $444 million grants to save the Great Barrier Reef.
Since 1949 sand mining has been active on Minjerribah. Its impact on people and Country is spoken about in Oodgeroo Noonukul’s poem Time is Running Out. The poem was published in the 1970 publication My people: a Kath Walker collection. This poem along with audio recording of Uncle Bob Anderson that speaks about mining’s end is included in this installation.
In 2011 the then state government made legislation to action Native Title in the region, extend national parks and put an end to mining on Minjerribah. After a change in government and subsequent High Court challenge mining the island is set to end in 2019.
The High Court of Australia ruled in 2017 to overturn legislation to prolong sand mining, as the extension of mining leases on the island brought into question the rights of Native Title holders across the Country.
Similarly, to allow foreshore development of Toondah Harbour and Cassim Island on reclaimed land of the bay in an internationally recognised Ramsar site, contravenes precisely what Ramsar Convention was set up to achieve: the protection of these locations. Threats to island habitats are largely born of human-centric practices.Mapping (and mining) the Bay has been a prolific undertaking by many and various individuals and entities in the last 70 years.
Embodied in the maps depicted in this installation, are the imagined underwater geologies from the Last Glacial period, charting of Moreton Bay by seafarers, political zoning by governments and bird habitats – to name but a few. Included is a map of Native Title over Minjerribah which has created it’s own complex divisions in the community and a Jandal language map of Minjerribah.
The north wall projection references mapping, mining and development in the Bay. Development is depicted in the 3D rendering of the intended Toondah Harbour development.
Mining Downunder Sibelco QLD was a film generated by Visage Productions in 2012 at the time of controversial over turning of mine closure. ‘Mining has stolen the foot prints of my ancestors’ is a theme often articulated in audio recordings with Uncle Bob over the past 24 months. In this installation he speaks of the significance of song and dance. And of walking Country to Aboriginal people and walking once again on the lands (currently still under mining lease) denied them.
The pristine waters of Marovo Lagoon in the Solomon Islands were depicted on the south wall; it’s corals untouched by ocean bleaching and marine inhabitants diverse and prolific as seen in footage by travel companion Dave Hannan of Ocean Ark Alliance, deep water cinematographer and sometimes island resident. Over laying this is original music composed by 16 year-old Leon D.N. – it’s mood one of wonder and journeying.
Lord Howe island is one of a few breeding sites for the sooty tern on the east coast of Australia. Their isolation and sheer volume leave their time immemorial routine unperturbed by human contact. Children visiting this site in breeding season are pictured here harnessing something of the innocence and reverence essential if we are to preserve earth’s natural habitats.
The media installation explored the idea of innocence and innocence lost be that through; mining, development or human’s prolific presence in the terrain.
The projections themselves are not limited to a single small screen. Instead they overlay the human centric and pinned histories of the island on the white walls of the old asylum building’s interior. North and south wall projections contrasting very different depictions and also decimations of ‘innocence’.