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Solar Winds or City Lights: Maria Blackwell & Nadège Philippe-Janon

Over the winter of 2019, childhood friends Maria Blackwell and Nadège Philippe-Janon took up a residency in Cockle Creek...

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Over the winter of 2019, childhood friends Maria Blackwell and Nadège Philippe-Janon took up a residency in Cockle Creek – the furthest point South you can drive to in Australia. The impetus behind the residency was in part a well-worn trope of the Western world – an attempt at escaping burnout, seeking a break from techno-connection and the expectations and mind-numbing comforts of Capitalism. However, the escape soon proved unrealistic.

With 4G coverage, they regularly used laptops and smartphones. They stuck to hiking trails walked by thousands of tourists before them. By night, they explored beaches hoping to view an aurora, only to discover the beautiful band in the sky was actually light pollution in the distant horizon. Determined to let go into their surroundings, they constructed a boat designed by Maria’s ancestors – an Irish coracle. Using an old bed sheet, invasive weeds, and branches left over from deforestation, the coracle came together, liberating them from the walking trails and sending them clumsily out to sea.