Our native wildlife is often hidden as many animals are small, nocturnal and timid. Living in an urban environment makes it harder to forge a connection, and many animals are becoming scarce due to habitat loss. We can easily forget that these animals exist, but they are in fact active, and present.
Animate Objects is a collection of 1, 2, and 3-panelled miniature icons of native South Western Australian animals, made from Jarrah, Marri, Wandoo, Banksia, Grass Tree, and Sheoak. The doors can be closed and opened to reveal the rarely seen animal.
The project derives from my interest in miniature religious icon paintings from Europe and Ethiopia, and the use of these objects for the purposes of ritual and worship. For example, some Christian cultures believe that in the process of making and painting the idols, the maker brings the subject to life. My interest developed when I was a child because my father, who was an Anthropologist, had many Ethiopian icons in his collection.
The objects that we own, and particularly those that we go to the trouble of making, often communicate something about our values. My own collection of native animal icons acknowledges and respects traditions of icon making, but calls for a shift in values. I hope to revive an awareness of these animals for those who view them.
Many of the animals depicted are portraits of the residents at Kanyana Wildlife Centre, where I volunteer. Their names are: Boodie, Iggy, Barry, Quolly, Elle, Aruba, Widgee, Henry, Raffie, Munch, Barry, Nell, and Precious.
All of the most interesting pieces of wood were sourced from and salvaged by “The Timber Bloke” in Rockingham, and “Djarilmari” in Denmark. The Marri, Wandoo, Banksia, Grass Tree, Sheoak, and some Jarrah come from these sources. “Perth Wood School” supplied me with the majority of the Jarrah, which is sustainably sourced. Many of the animals inhabit or prefer specific tree species. These animals have been depicted upon the tree species of their natural surroundings.