The beautiful landscape of Marathon seems to me at once breathtakingly familiar and yet still so strange. How can it be possible for such a place, so like my homeland, to exist here, on the opposite side of the world?
Momentarily, through my eyes, the river is not the Nile but the Coiltie, and the sheep are those that graze peacefully in the fields of Glen Urquhart. Then, all of a sudden, I am skewed as the smell of eucalyptus reaches my nostrils and seeps into my lungs. The sun-hardened surface of the land startles and repels my footfall, telling me that I do not belong.
As these dichotomous sensations vie for my attention I find myself drifting into an empathic realm that extends both within and beyond what is immediately perceived. From the silent hollow of my being, incomplete letters and words slowly start to emerge, fluxing through time and space. How can these pieces be made whole?
Old wool bale stencil, purchased c. 1998 at the Evandale Market, not far from Marathon
And so I take soundings. With all my senses I ‘listen’ to the landscape of Marathon and feel the presence of its many histories. As the resulting words and sentences take shape, they are added to an ongoing series called Soundings that I commenced in 2012. These short meditations/propositions are an attempt to make connections between place and being. They are ‘pieces’ that anyone can play.
Bron Fionnachd-Féin, Soundings (Marathon Project) 2015, 5m 30s.
This is an approach and sentiment that is echoed by Nicholas Rothwell in his Eric Rolls lecture, What lies beyond us?, in Canberra, October 2014:
What is the secret that hides behind the landscape? What are the half-glimpsed shadow lines that draw us in? What mystery of energy or presence is it that we feel around us when we find ourselves alone in the bush, surrounded by the unfolding expanse of country? Plants, earth, ranges, sky — each element shaping and defining all the others. I pose these questions, these interlinked questions […] more as a set of soundings sent down into a formless dark and as steps on a track towards some systematic enquiry.