In 2016 my Artist residency was in Poughkeepsie on the Hudson River, two hours North of Manhattan in New York State. Poughkeepsie is a multi-cultural community and there I saw correlation with my community and topical aspects of immigration, trade and asylum seekers.
I created my first origami boat installation that represented the 315-mile length of the river, the assortment of vessels of trade and diverse cultures who have engaged with the river. An installation was again created in Warrandyte in January 2017 and featured in the Warrandyte Diary.
The Boat Project has continued since that time, in a diverse range of interpretations including Yellow Boats of Hope. Yellow stands for happiness, positivity, energy, remembrance, optimism and joy.
Dangerous boat travels, sinking vessels, deaths and authoritarian refusal to enter Australian waters are signs of desperation and the risks taken by asylum seekers for a better life. One can only imagine the plight, hardship and difficulty in being forced to seek asylum from your home in a strange other country, and the consequential risk to you and your loved ones lives on an unknown arrival.
The Hope Boats were first shown in the ‘CONNECTION 8000’ Exhibition at C + Space, Shunyi, Beijing PR China (2017). Curator Jingjing Jia. I also conducted a Children’s Workshop within the exhibition space for Tasun Creative Art.
Also in 2017 I was invited to participate in the 27 Degree Angle East Lake International Ecological Sculpture Biennale at Jiufeng Urban Forestry Reserve in Wuhan, Hubei, China. I created an installation titled ‘Golden boat: Golden Waterway’ in acknowledgement of the trading route along the Yangtze River that flows through Wuhan.
I was fortunate to create three installations of Yellow Boats in 2018. An invitation to participate in the Redgate residency open studio programme enabled me to show my work in the very studio where I had my first China residency in 2003. In September 2018 Curator Jingjing Jia extended an invitation to create a Yellow Boat installation at K-YARC Gallery Gwangju South Korea, as a fringe exhibition in conjunction with the Gwangju Art Biennale.
A series of silkscreen prints and collage titled SIEV: Titles of Positivity were exhibited with the installation A Gold Boat for a Gold Coin in the Adrift exhibition at Red Gallery in 2018; to assist in raising funds for Asylum Seekers.
In 2019 after traveling in Norway with a group of MG car enthusiasts Walter and I spent several weeks in the Lofoten/Vesteralen archipelago. I had taken a series of the Poughkeepsie boats and was thrilled with the installation opportunities by magnificent waterways.