Nest

‘Nest’ is about my dealing with notions of ‘home’ and making (art, identities, home). After experiences of immigration and moving away from my beloved Namibia, themes around seeking a new groundedness and identities have much dominated my creative practices. ‘Nest’ is one of the expressions that deal with these themes, especially now that I travel, work and live between extreme margins from Outback Australia to the Arctic North.

I have most of my career moved away from design towards artistic and improvisatory processes due to fears of the planned and restricted. I have become addicted to the making in the moment and the possibilities it offers. Yet, I cannot remove myself from planning and conceptualisation either. It is always there, sneaking in, finding and creating order, maybe not always simultaneously, but it comes back, the analytical to sort out the anarchical mess, working in tandem, but also not. I get obsessed in ‘worlds’ of analysis or impulsive/intuitive making. Then, sometimes, to make it come together I find peace between these two ‘sides’ and find harmony, perhaps a conclusion, a way forward or backward.

Nests are such a process. Thoughts slowly process as we dream and live. We create rhizomes that come together in something else that is made one day. When I over-plan I tend to dislike the process as it will stall my journey and instil fear. The process was a kind of soul searching about the meaning of my ‘nest’ (home, love, belonging, life, work, place), my environment, my future and past. The felts I thought ‘just happened’, but the nests happened through many rhizomes that started to grow through thoughts, actions and events. Then, somehow they started to grow and knot together, like a nest in itself, to make ‘Nest’.

There is another story entangled in the history of ‘Nest’. In 2014 a nine year old boy who saw me weave seaweed one day brought me a bird’s nest. He told me that he saw me make nests (the weaving I was working on) and that is why he wants to give me the bird’s nest (not that I thought of my weaving as nests at that stage, but subconsciously I was processing thoughts about home and what constitutes home for me for several years). I was quite surprised that when I looked closer, the nest was woven with trash, literally trash that the poor birds found from the environment we humans trash. Plastic, plastic rope and fibre, trashy bits of everything, seaweed and natural stuff, all was in there!

The nest occupied my mind as the beauty I see in Australia, my new home, is trashed  (similar to Namibia, my ‘home for always and never again’). The nest that the boy gave me inspired the purpose of my felts. I felted them with natural fibres and environmentally friendly soap. The idea is to take them back to the environment for the birds to use them as materials to build their nests. This idea stems from observing in my patio studio at home two birds who unravelled some of my experimental weaves to harvest materials for their nest weaving. While making some rather awesome acrobatic moves to access the weaves through the trellises, they frayed the weaves, pulling fibres from it for their own nests.

In the near future I will produce a follow-up blog about ‘Nest’ installed in the environment of the Far West Coast of South Australia where they will serve as nest materials for birds.

Melanie Sarantou

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