Refugium (refugia): Latin for refuge, hideaway, sanctuary, ark
The planet is our refuge, our home, the place where we can flourish as a species.
Refugium invokes our insistent longing for a stable refuge: a protective haven, especially when familiar life supports are threatened, or our resilience is rendered impotent in the face of an unrelenting viral or existential attack.
Refugium seeks to shine a light on our humanity in relationship to our Earth and to the myriad of other beings with whom we share this world. In this there is a reciprocal notion of care.
It may be hard for us to accept that this home of abundance and beauty, rotating forever around an enduring Sun in a spiral galaxy called the Milky Way, is impervious to the fate of those who take refuge on her surface. She bears no malice or regret about our excesses and has no agency with our human emotions. There is a tithe however, to be paid for the choices we have made and enacted. We have over-extended our dominion yet paradoxically remain utterly dependent on this impersonal yet vulnerable ecosystem that we seem so wilfully to compromise.
Refugium asks us to make connection with this larger ecology – to examine the conditions in which we can best continue to flourish; to enquire within whether our own flourishing is to be at the expense of planetary ecosystems’ ongoing ability to flourish? To ask how our deep connection with our unique regional biodiversity may be important in all this?
Over eons of time, all species have had to learn to adapt, seek refuge, manipulate their niche environment to survive under threatening circumstances. As a species we have become expert at applying our intelligence to adapt, survive, even thrive. However, burgeoning climate emergencies, often enhanced by human activities, are for many of our fellow species becoming a last stand – a final rallying point before severe depletion or extinction.
Our geographical location here in the Great Southern is part of a globally recognised Biodiversity Hot-Spot. All endemic flora and fauna species in this region are under threat from the effects of changing climate. Cooler wetter places of refuge are required if they are to survive the climate excesses. There is much at stake.
Immersion in this territory can feel like entering a vast echo chamber – as big as the planet itself. So how have the 20 artists in this exhibition negotiated their way through this territory to make meaningful artistic responses? It is fair to say that personal stories have been mined, sites of interest explored, complex ideas investigated, discarded and trawled again for resonant gems. The presented works seem to dwell in an atmosphere of contemplative hope. Just imagine for a moment, that these collective works of art could play upon our sensibilities and transform us all into more thoughtful connected sentient beings with the ability to rein in our excesses, repair our wanton greed and move with generosity towards the greater good of all. If only it was that simple…..
Ann Copeman, Curator