“A Year in the George’s River Watershed: Elizabeth Billings and Michael Sacca”
Preserving wild lands and conserving our environment comes out of a deep connection with the natural world. Connecting to nature through a combination of digital imaging and work made by hand is the underlying concept of this residency.
Our collaborative investigation into the Georges River watershed concentrates on several Georges River Land Trust properties over the course of a year. Sharing a similar visual aesthetic, we approach our work from diverse vantage points: photography, cinematography and the use of digital media on one hand, drawing, gathering, weaving and installation art on the other. Using the expanse between these techniques and the common ground of the Georges River, our goal is to visually portray the essence of the watershed and our connection to it.
Our residency takes us through an entire year of observing seasonal changes in the watershed. In early December we made a visit to the area and identified the Gibson Preserve and Eagles Way Preserve as two potential sites for the residency work. The relative remoteness and large acreage of Searsmont and the expansive marsh, open woods and river access in Warren are rich with possibilities. We plan to continue to broaden our understanding of the range of properties as well as to walk portions of the Georges Highland Path and kayak portions of the Georges River.
The residency is composed broadly in two parts: the collaboration in the making and then in the exhibition of the work, both deeply exciting. Using our combined artistic techniques, we begin our outreach with a blog as a public journal/exhibition visually documenting our travels, reflections and thoughts. The blog allows and encourages regular and careful consideration of the progressing artwork. During the residences, we will invite the public and Georges River Land Trust members to local food potluck picnics on and beside the River and on other properties. In this way, we connect to the people and the food of the area and they to us. At the end of the year of visual exploration, our combined artwork and blog entries are edited together into a chapbook and an exhibition of the artwork, celebrating the watershed and the residency.
We have spent years developing and honing our varied artistic techniques making visible our connection with nature. Having the singular focus of the watershed from two quite different artistic disciplines is both intriguing and challenging. A collaborative residency invites conversations to take place reflecting on the new body of work. This creates the potential to move our individual explorations more quickly and intensely. We believe taking this personal risk enlivens the work and allows for new creative paths.