Spinning Nature

Tasked by Australia’s Tourism Victoria Campaign to build a site-specific installation in southeastern Victoria’s Croajingolong National Park — a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve — Melbourne-based artist Corey Thomas spent five days looking for stories in the landscape. He found many — in the stones, seaweed, wood — each, as he says, with a new narrative. He ended up by the water, where tiny whorls of spinifex grasses gamboled between dunes and spindrift. Indigenous to Australia, the sand-stabilizing grasses disperse seeds in tufts that fragment as they travel, similar to tumbleweeds. By bundling branches from a local forest with steel, resin, and cables, Thomas built his own outsize version, aptly titled Spinifex.  “My mother is a keen gardener and inspired me to be curious about the natural world,” says Thomas. “And the tumbleweed is an inspiring form of architecture and transport.” The piece was filmed over the course of a few days, then dismantled, its branches fittingly returned to the park’s forest just as the grasses disassemble themselves as they tumble through the dunes.

Next up from Thomas is a less ephemeral but equally monumental endeavor — an enormous mobile suspended from the canopy of the rainforest in the Blue Mountains of Australia, about two hours from Sydney. “The form is inspired by the kingfisher, a bird native to the area,” says the artist, who notes that the work will reflect the dappled light of the forest. While he delivered Spinifex to the beach by helicopter, Thomas will transport his mobile into the mountains by aerial cable car when he installs it this April.

This article was first published in Garden Design February/March 2013