It was Bob Burton - Tasmania’s best and most intelligent investigative journalist in my not-so-humble view - who first suggested that Tasmanian Times feature photographic tributes to Tasmania on the first day of every month.
I was immediately enthusiastic ... I do have this terrible habit of being a Yes-Man.
Then I began to have doubts ... I thought it may detract from TT’s fundamental purpose of highlighting the significant issues facing this wondrous state ... from ever-present forestry to energy policy to highlighting the lies pollies in particular tell ... who can forget Martyn Goddard’s fairly recent article: Lies, Damned Lies ... and Peter Gutwein - which told the tale of a press release from the Liberal Government’s Pravda headquarters purporting to detail how it was such a “Merry Christmas for Tassie Retailers”.
That was for the consumption of the gullible only. Martyn did not take this statement at face value ... but examined it to reveal that in fact, as he says, “Unfortunately for the Treasurer, his own department issued the next day their own analysis of the national retail figures that showed Tasmanian retailers had the worst Christmas of any state or territory in the country.”
Then there is the subtle work of the wonderful Don Knowler, who has just completed a year detailing each week his love affair with Kunanyi, Mt Wellington. His writing is an absolute joy ... a subtle celebration of the natural world ... and perhaps a warning against the unsubtle imprint of humankind on this wondrous natural world ... an argument for example against a cable car ...
And last but not least, the hard-hitting revelations of Tom Ellison who wrote – among many articles - HAWTHORN: It’s a con ... a fraud ... … This was an examination of the truth or otherwise of State Governments’ - of either political persuasion – fascination with bread and circuses.
(All three were Tasmanian Times Tasmanians of the Year for 2014. And each, somewhere, perhaps in the loo, has a framed tribute). Those wonderfully-framed tributes come courtesy by the way of the wonderful ArteryArtery.
Back to those doubts about First Day of The Month. Bob kicked ‘em off with some nice shots of Mt Wellington … then other readers’ piccies began to trickle in … including Isla MacGregor’s
And those doubts completely vanished. Sublime, beautiful, idiosyncratic, wondrous tributes to this bejewelled island, which some days reveals its beauty in a manner which makes you cry (with joy).
As once I wrote about a commitment ceremony weekend near Randall’s Bay ...
“Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you pinch yourself; wondering if it is all real.
(In this case) The impossible backdrop of the azure sea, the tall classical spindly gums swaying in the gentle breeze. The sun sparkling, deepening the azure, and the greenness of the leaves; the whiteness and sparse beauty of the sandy soil.
Sometimes Tasmania confronts you with such beauty you are left breathless, in awe, wondering and thankful simply to be alive. At that moment you say thankyou to the ocean and to the sky and to the breeze and to the trees and to the air. You are, at that moment - as writer and historian Ross Fitzgerald (and alcoholic for that matter) - once said, a primitive rather than a pagan. He was explaining why he was a-theist ... while still praying.
You throw your arms wide and say thankyou. You do not necessarily know to whom; You are just so grateful.” - Sometimes you get lucky, here
But tributes to classical Tasmanian beauty are just part of the story of Tasmania … in this exhibition – Entropy 1 - Isla tells another story …
As she says in this quote:
The concept of entropy began life in the world of thermodynamics, as a measure of randomness, or disorder. Like many esoteric scientific terms, entropy has been adopted by several other disciplines, and now represents the tendency of a system – be it man-made or natural - to deteriorate inevitably toward an inert, disordered, essentially non-functional state. A condition that is a pale shadow of what was once an inherently functional, ordered, productive scheme.
Mining and other human activities have exacerbated the disorder in our earth’s systems.
Isla is fascinated by telling it as it is ... she celebrates Truth in Art ... she brings that raw truth to this exhibition. This is what she says ...
I seek to explore the conflicted zone between the romanticised imagery of artists and historians, the deep connection to place felt by mining folk, and the severe degradation of the environment that follows mining activity. The evocative images of the roaster at The Tasmanian Smelters at Zeehan, set against the flayed hills, are nostalgic reminders of the hardships endured by many early mining families on the West Coast. Forever battered by wild winds and rains, the smelter continues to fall into a state of disorder – a red, raw relic presiding over decades of mine waste. Acid mine drainage from the surrounding waste heaps and a toxic metal lode leach into the Little Henty River as it journeys to the Great Southern Ocean.
There is a strange beauty to these images ... as there is a strange beauty to the West Coast and the legacy of so much of the impact of humankind.
Isla has done us an enormous service by putting together these haunting images.
We can only salute her ...
• REVIEWED! by Bronwyn Williams. TT Arts here Tasmania might be ‘clean and green’, but the shiny veneer sometimes hides a grubby, tarnished underbelly. Rather than avert her gaze, Ms MacGregor has used her lens to bravely expose this uncomfortable reality.