This work takes as its starting point the plant medicinal remedies of the Dharawal people of the southern Sydney and Illawara region. Beginning with an exploration of the intricate relationships of dependence and mutuality that develop between people and their biophysical milieus, the work opens out into a baroque unfurling in which familiar spatial and somatic perception are destabilised. The spilling fluids in these images refer to, amongst other things, the fluids of bodies - blood, digestive juices, mucus, milk. Despite their grounding in the concreteness of the body’s vulnerabilities and indiscretions, the images unfold in some other-worldly time and place, calling up broader themes of religiosity and the violences of history. Underneath these associations is a response based more in the world of sensation, of the work’s softness and liquidity, the fluid cocooning of these young, denuded plants, floating, sinking, levitating or flying across space.
Helen Pynor wishes to thank the Dharawal Elders and people, and John Lennis, for information on Dharawal medicinal practices used in the Milk project.