All I knew about the venue for ‘Undergrowth’ was that it was in a basement underneath Sinclair’s Fitness. I didn’t know such a venue existed, so I was hoping it would be clear once I arrived. It was. The red lights glowing out of a door in the sandstone wall, and the long line of people queuing up the street were clear signs that a Dark Mofo event was in full swing.
As I entered, I inhaled a strong smell of damp. It was gloomy and hard to see well, but attendants guided us through the space and down into the basement. They implored us to tread carefully because the flagstone floor was uneven.
Emerging into the ‘gallery’ space, the artwork was revealed and it was clear that they had chosen the perfect venue. Four dark, somewhat derelict, convict built sandstone brick rooms. The space was part of the undercarriage of the city of Hobart and it felt eerie. Everyone was moving around the space in complete silence captivated by the work.
Projected onto the damp convict built walls was video footage of botanical species coming to life, zombie-like faces of children, and creepily lit plants. Bare root fruit trees stood like a winter forest and turnips hung from the ceiling.
The visuals, the smell, and the dark felt just like the creepy undergrowth of a forest, maybe next to a cemetery, or the dark underbelly of an abandoned city after some sort of apocalypse.
Undergrowth is part of a larger work produced by Lucy Bleach, John Vella and Kit Wise from the University's Tasmanian College of the Arts in conjunction with the students from Triabunna Primary School and the School of Plant Science at the University.
The project “Night Garden” is a cinematic exploration of dark psychological terrain. It is a Live Site Catalyst project supported by the University of Tasmania, the University's Institute for the Study of Social Change, the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council and the Behrakis Group. Chandlers Nursery donated the trees, and Woolworths donated the parsnips.
Undergrowth was presented by Dark Mofo for one night only. However, “Overgrowth”, a second installation, is being hosted in Triabunna on Friday 24th of June. The projections will light up various buildings within the regional community between 5-9pm. It is a free event.