Introduced Species by Belle Ellery
For our Aluminations assessment task I chose to use the space outside in the stair well because I like the connective relationship it has with the inside and the outside space of the building. I particularly liked the idea of engaging and interacting with the space, the building as well as the people that occupy the space/building. After evaluating the stairwell area I decided I wanted to incorporate the water pipes. They inspired me to create an installation incorporating something that requires water to survive/grow.
I particularly liked this idea of growth, as we are all students at University here to expand our knowledge and grow and develop as artists. Like a plant seeks sun and water, we are coming here to seek information and experience.
I also admired the way the sun reflected and bounced off of the aluminium foil as well as the noise the foil made in the wind. I noticed shortly after I started to create my vine that every time someone walked out of the building via the door in the stair well the leaves would rustle. This was a beautiful surprise. I really like the idea of such a subtle and delicate interaction with someone walking through the door and hearing the gentle rustle of my al-foil ivy leaves as they walk past and down the stairs.
After doing a little bit of research I decided to create a vine inspired by the invasive environmental weed English Ivy / Cape Ivy (Hedera helix / Delairea odorata). I decided to replicate this particular weed because of its capabilities to smother and out-compete native Australian vegetation. It is also a common weed in disturbed urban situations, such as on fences and along railway verges. It seemed appropriate placing a weed in this environment because any plant would struggle to survive in an environment such as this as well as the fact that we are using al-foil which is an introduced/foreign material into the space. Much like an invasive weed.
Prior to making this decision I also researched the effects aluminium foil has on our environment. Aluminum foil does not biodegrade. Biodegradation only happens when microorganisms (microbes, fungi etc.) use a material as food.
Aluminum foil can chemically degrade if exposed to acids or alkalis in soil or groundwater. It can be converted to aluminum oxide in a fire. It can be shredded into very small particles by abrasion, the smaller particles are more apt to be oxidized or dissolved. If not exposed to this physical degradation aluminum will last for thousands of years.
I like the contradiction between creating something that is natural and organic out of a metallic material. I also like the connection between the weed being a foreign species created out of a material also very foreign to the space.
I started building the vine approximately 3 prior to the completion date. I decided to allow the vine to grow slowly and gradually like an actual vine would grow. I also thought this would be a great way to get people to notice the installation and interact with it. I have had a great deal of positive feedback from people ever since I first put my reserved sign up in the space.
People have been photographing its progress, taking the stairs just to see how much it has grown, telling me they think its beautiful and charming etc etc. The feedback really has been overwhelming and I have absolutely loved how my peers and lecturers/tutors have interacted with and engaged with the growing process.
I have also been tracking the vines growth on social media (instagram and facebook) and the wonderful feedback I have had from both friends and strangers as truly been surprising and amazing.
During the growing (making) process I stumbled across a few hiccups. Firstly my leaf design didn’t attach to the stem very well, so that involved a series of trial leaves, then when I figured out how to make the best leaf (that would stay attached to the vine best) I made up 3 different sized templates and started creating leaves.
The next hiccup I had was weather… I have unfortunately experienced a few leaf fatalities during this process. I established, especially with the larger leaves, when it gets too windy the little stems aren’t strong enough to support the weight of the larger leaves. The only way I could resolve this was by using a tiny bit of tape to ensure the safety of the leaves.
My entire installation is all al-foil with a few centimeters worth of tape just for good measure (to ensure the leaves stay in place).
The only other problem I have encountered is that people have taken leaves. I know this because they have shown me and apologized but they said they liked it so much and they thought the leaves were beautiful that couldn’t help but take one. Which is both very lovely and a little frustrating simultaneously.
Overall I am very happy with how my installation has turned out. I love that my peers, lecturers/tutors and strangers on social media have all engaged with the installation and enjoyed the process as much as I have. I think it communicates well with the space, building and surrounding environment as well as the people that occupy and utilize the space. I love that it provided me with a challenge and that it was an ongoing project that I could keep adding to bit by bit. I really enjoyed creating this installation.