Both the conception of, and the making of sculpture, involve subtle decision making skills. The complexity and the power of what is conveyed are I believe linked to that subtle decision making process; which can draw on a pool of immeasurable depth, in terms of both the history of sculpture, and past and present investigative paradigms. To dilute this process results in work which is not sculpture, it becomes something else, design or "public art". The initial motivation in setting up the "Palmer Sculpture Landscape" was to engage a place which had certain qualities where I could place my work, unimpeded by the struggle of dealing with the attempted restrictions which are very often connected with the public commissioning process. I found a wonderful place, uniquely Australian in feel, with great potential for placing sculpture, where I could without restriction site my sculpture.
What followed, closely behind, was a restorative, environmental engagement of this particular landscape. This has been exhilarating - some of my most enjoyable times have been spent walking across this returning landscape, with the wonderful Andrew Allison from "Bush For life", Andrew pointing out the latest find, often a very small plant, which when studied closely is immensely beautiful. Such is the nature of the Australian landscape, you have to very often look closely, but it is not barren; that is an imported, European viewpoint.
As of November 2008 there are twenty sculptures of mine placed at Palmer. They have all been located after walking over the potential site, and lengthy consideration.
These works tell a story, all but two arise from the Australian landscape - from both what I call a "subterranean symbolic viewing", and a literal viewing of it. What I believe is important here is that this landscape is new territory for a sculptor whose dreaming lies in Europe. It is a fresh, an exciting arena to work in; it is not the European stage from which many of my earlier, and some of my recent influences come.
The resultant forms placed carefully at Palmer are different to sculpture being produced in other parts of the world; they are deliberately not international in style. They are I believe Australian sculpture; strangely perhaps very few sculptors in my country have taken on the unique flavour of this place (John Davis is one exception).
I hope this will change. It is the local adjusting, and impacting in tandem with international developments which adds the pungent aroma to sculpture, separating it from those who choose to produce McDonnell's sculpture, the same product with the same characteristics all over the world. Brancusi's work reflected this, the local Rumanian wood carving tradition impacted on his sculpture, this combined with the developments in Modernism gave it its potency.
I hope people will enjoy the experience of Palmer, unravelling the story being told there, and at the same time creating their own stories.
Greg Johns October 2008