Swedish father and daughter artist duo capture the art of Australia’s bush

This is a lovely piece from Peter Hannan, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Think of it as the art of exploration.

Swedish father and daughter artist duo, Karl and Christine Chilcott, would venture out separately each day from their Blue Mountains base in Bilpin usually on foot into the nearby Wollemi wilderness.

For Karl, the aim was to follow a “song line” to identify a likely setting. He would then gather nearby raw materials – from stones to coloured sands, dead or burnt branches, and even leaves – to assemble a work of sculpture inspired by the stunning surrounds.

Karl and Christine Chilcott at work.Karl and Christine Chilcott at work. Photo: Wolter Peeters

“I did not use maps, no Google – only feelings – [and] the sun and big trees as reference points,” Mr Chilcott said.

His daughter would then go in search of the sculpture, hoping to capture in a photograph what she calls an “eternal moment”.

“Since I do the photographs from my first encounter with the installations, I want to capture my first impression of the art work,” Ms Chilcott said.

Karl Chilcott uses landforms and materials to highlight nature's beauty.Karl Chilcott uses landforms and materials to highlight nature’s beauty. Photo: Wolter Peeters

The results of their month-long work will be published next year in the latest of a sculpture series that have taken the pair to Ireland, Spain, Iceland and Canada. (See more of their work here.)

Mr Chilcott cites Aboriginal art as one source of inspiration: “They came to a place with an open mind and empty hands and created art, which was in size, expression, colour and language a natural part of the whole. This feels for me close to the concept of art in nature in a consequential way.”

The challenge for Ms Chilcott was to adjust to Australia’s different light, which locals say is clearest in the mountains in mid-winter.

The natural sculptures in the Blue Mountains. The materials are all found locally and the sculptures are dismantled daily.The natural sculptures in the Blue Mountains. The materials are all found locally and the sculptures are dismantled daily. Photo: Karl and Christine Chilcott

“It is a lot brighter [than in Europe] and it is moving very much faster here,” she said. “I never wait for the perfect light on the perfect day… and that left me with much less time to work until the sun goes down,” she said.

The pair also created and photographed sculptures in the Gardens of Stones, and at the BigCi – the grandly entitled Bilpin International Ground for Creative Initiatives – set up to host visitors such as the Chilcotts by sculpture Rae Bolotin and her designer and avid bushwalker husband Yuri.

For Mr Chilcott, the Blue Mountains and the Wollemi national parks offered a chance to accentuate nature’s beauty.

Swedish father and daughter artists Kurt and Christine Chilcott are coming to the end of a month or so building natural sculptures (Kurt) and photographing them (Christine) in the Blue Mountains. The materials are all found locally and the sculptures are dismantled daily. Click for more photos

Sculptor Karl Chilcott and his photographer daughter Christine collaborate to create ‘eternal moments’ of art in the Blue Mountains. Photo: Karl and Christine Chilcott

I think it is important to show what we have and are losing without and within us, the nature around and inside us,” he said. “Every human has a feeling for nature, but sometimes we have forgotten it. The result can be a feeling of loneliness, [seeking] something we do not know what it can be.”

Many of the images are stunning, and it can surprise the viewer to know Mr Chilcott would return to each work after his daughter had finished photographing, to dismantle it and return each component to where he had found it.

“To be surprised by art, one can be appreciate it,” he said. “But every human has the right to choose if he wants to see art or not,” he said.

“Working in such landscapes is connected with the responsibility to leave the place in the same condition as we met it,” he concludes. “It is for me a question of dignity.”

A busy year awaits, with Tuscany, Scotland and the Faroe Islands among the locations where the Chilcotts are headed next, with a plan to return to Australia next year.


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