Dear Agnes, pays tribute to international land artist

Dear Agnes Art Project logo

A new contemporary art exhibition opening in March will pay tribute to the Altona Meadows land artwork created in 1998 by New York-based environmental artist Agnes Denes.

Twenty-five years ago, Agnes Denes’ commissioned work, A Forest for Australia, was created and installed as a series of tree plantings within the environs of the Altona Treatment Plant in Queen Street, Altona Meadows.

Dear Agnes, a program featuring the works of 12 artists and collectives at nearby Truganina Explosives Reserve, is a response to the local landscape-inspired themes and the work by Denes.

Dear Agnes, will be open to the public for nine days over three weekends, from Friday 10 March to Sunday 26 March 2023, at Truganina Explosives Reserve in Altona.

About Dear Agnes,

To celebrate A Forest for Australia’s 25th anniversary, Dear Agnes, will cast a new light on Denes’ work and vision for the site.

The exhibition will feature a mix of sculptural installation, digital works and diverse experiences.

Hobsons Bay City Council invited local artists from Hobsons Bay and the western region, and public art masters students from RMIT University and visual arts students from Deakin University, to be a part of the program.

The selected artists have been working on developing site-responsive artworks since June 2022. They have had access to the site, as well as mentors through the universities’ academics, who are all renowned public artists.

The selected artists/collectives are Michelle Cox, Chispa Flaskas, Natasha Gardos, Ainslie Peverell and Meg Stewart-Snoad, Caleb Hardy and Jess Phillips, David Murphy, Amal Laala, Overlapping Collective – Forest Keegel & Annee Miron, James Price, PIPS – Catherine Magill and Vivienne Tate, Ana Sanchez, Autumn Tansey and Victoria Vyvyan.

As part of the program, there will be artists talks, creative workshops, live music and tours of A Forest for Australia.

The project is an initiative of Hobsons Bay City Council in partnership with Greater Western Water, Deakin University, and RMIT University.

About A Forest for Australia

In 1998, the Australia Council commissioned Denes, one of the world’s leading environmental artists, to create the work, a ‘forest’ of 6000 endangered tree species planted into five spirals in Altona Meadows.

The intention was that with trees at varying heights at maturity, the spirals would create a step pyramid, would create seed supply and help alleviate serious land erosion and desertification.

While the combination of soil type, plant species and the ravages of a decade-long drought saw the forest struggle to flourish initially, over the past decade a rejuvenation project has brought new life to the original site, which is on Greater Western Water’s land.

“Dear Agnes, is a wonderful collection of contemporary art that inspires us to think of our local landscape in a different way,” Mayor of Hobsons Bay, Cr Tony Briffa, said.

“The artists who have taken part, including some from Hobsons Bay, have done an incredible job in interpreting and paying tribute to the original concept of Agnes Denes’ A Forest for Australia.

“This exhibition is a love letter to Agnes, thanking and honouring her for the ground-breaking work she has done, both in our own backyard in Altona, and around the world.”

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