The Marathon Project showcases beauty and adversity of Tasmania

Sixteen artists have joined together to experience and respond to a Tasmanian property as part of an artistic project.

The more than 1400 hectare property was used over three years for The Marathon Project to inspire a series of artworks, showcasing the land’s diversity, complexity and beauty.

For artist Amelia Rowe, it also meant highlighting the loss, death and grief.

Her taxidermied lambs and thistles represented early colonisation and the grim stories from Tasmania’s past.

The thistles were brought over by the early settlers as a reminder of home, “herein are the metaphoric possibilities of these invasive, defiant invaders”.

Karen Hall said artists wandered off when they arrived on the property for the weekend.

But no matter what path was taken, they always eventually converged at different points, discussing art and inspiration, Hall said.

“It’s been a privilege to have access to a working property that this project has allowed, to roam through the diverse and extensive spaces that are not generally accessible,” Hall said.

The artists became conscious of the property as a space that was tended, which also shaped the people inhabiting it, she said.

When curator Patrict Sutczak first heard about the project, he was overseas on a residency to challenge himself to do something he had never done before.

Working on The Marathon Project as an artist and curator, meant he continued to challenge himself during the three-year project.

The artists visited the property at least twice a year for inspiration and to come to terms with life and landscapes on the property, Sutczak said.

The visits and the project presented a challenge for figurative sculptor Robert Boldkald.

Used to his particular craft, creating an artwork based on a landscape was quite a different task.

He watched people interact with the land and stock, which flared his inspiration.

“Watching the farmer and the sheep move together was like watching a conductor in front of an orchestra,” Boldkald said.

“These actions in the landscape have been an inspiration, resulting in a hybrid creature, a combination of sheep and man.”

He started with a trail of wool, leading to a figure.

Setting the piece up in the gallery, Boldkald said he had to adapt and compromise with the other works and artists in the exhibition.

It was fortunate the artists visited the land during different seasons to watch the landscape transform from cracked and arid to a quagmire, he said.

Artist Robin Tanner used wire fence to show the changing environmental practices used for the property.

Sheep used to be fenced in, now they’re fenced out to a 300 hectare patch of the property, Tanner said.

  • The Marathon Project is on at the Academy Gallery at the University of Tasmania Inveresk campus until October 27.