Fraser Island Register

March, 1987
Entrepot, Brisbane

Curator of Duration

A walking stick on 75 mile beach may aid a traveller more by making marks in the sand than by helping his/her balance. On a beach where one can see neither the beginning nor the end and the two edges that bind it are quite uniform, measuring, anticipating, estimating time and distances becomes problematic. A walking stick may then become a landmark for orientation when placed in the sand or can make tracks In front of the traveller as she walks; a series of small, finite measurements to reassure the traveller that the land is passing under his/her feet. – Caroline Stalker

In February, Entrepot, the student group which rents and administrates 40 Charlotte Street, organised a Royal Australian Institute of Architecture funded workshop on Fraser Island. The purpose of the field trip was to explore architectural ideas outside the urban environment.

Fraser Island with vast tracts of highly unusual and unspoiled natural environment was ideal as a place for discussing ways of dismantling architectural presuppositions formed by mainstream city/urban demands.

Participant/organisers Caroline Stalker, John McMin, Andrew Gutteridge, Rhonan O'Brien, Justin O'Neill, Timothy Hill, and Mark Thompson conceived some systems for exploring the environment by asking the participants to become "curators" of various aspects of the island's landscape.

The project was divided into three stages: prior discussion, in which advice and comments were given by John MacArthur, Jeffrey Minson, and John Stafford; the trip itself, where observations were made; and workshops after the trip, which involved making the physical objects on show at Entrepot in March 1987.

In the post-workshop exhibition, Fiona Winzar's photographs (prints by Peter Kent) explored the subtleties of her tasks as curator of imprints. Tracks, impressions, and shadows - retinal imprints - were layered. Jo besley too worked in shadows, not so much concerned with objects as the shadows they threw.

Peter Richards’ work in the exhibition drew on the form of the Angiopteris Erecta Fern. As curator of growth and decay he looked at the growth of the frond, representing the lopsided leaf in dowelling, and decay in the rusted wreck of the Maheno, with rubbings of “man-made” portholes and their shadows in nature’s corrosion.

Andrew Gutteridge, John McMin and Justin O’Neill - by making several of the major pieces of the show, and providing the structural framework for hanging pieces – created a visual discourse which opened the exhibition to a sculptural interpretation. Participants were required to make their tools of observation from the limited range of materials they took to the island, or to adapt something from nature to use as measuring tools. Timothy Hill used food dye to reveal tidal marks, while Caroline Stalker manufactured walking sticks as aids to her measurements and thoughts as curator of duration.

In one of the pieces called Hierarchy of In-trusions, Andrew looked at the rate at which the environment restored itself after intrusion and built a very interesting device with gauze and string to show the temporal elasticity of various landscapes. It was evident here that the workshop was successful in getting to starting points for architecture other than the conventional restrictions of economics and function.