Perdita Phillips

Perdita Phillips is an artist based in Western Australia with a wide-ranging and experimental conceptual practice. With a background in environmental science she has pursued crossovers between art and science since the 1990s, working at the intersection of art, ecology, history of science, human communities and nonhuman worlds. She has generated art from termites, rabbits (land degradation), cane toads, salmon gum trees, thrombolites, tammar wallabies, bowerbirds, glacial moraine, urban ecosystems, albatrosses and penguins. Her 2006 PhD (fieldwork/fieldwalking: art, sauntering and science in the walkingcountry) discussed a field site in the tropical savannah of the East Kimberley of Australia in relation to soundscapes, the wild, interspecies communication and transformations between the field and the gallery. Her media include walking, mixed media installation, environmental projects, sound, sculpture, photography and drawing. Whilst materially diverse, underlying themes of ecological processes and a commitment to a resensitisation to the physical environment, are apparent. Publications include Field working, slow making (2016), Artistic Practices and Ecoaesthetics in Post-sustainable Worlds (2015), A Simple Rain (2012) and birdlife (2011).

Concretions of human and nonhuman worlds

Arriving in London in 1997 on a Commonwealth Scholarship to study a MA in Art at Goldsmiths College, to the dismay of my tutors I then spent one day a week auditing a MA in Cultural Geography with Denis Cosgrove, Catherine Nash and Felix Driver and other lecturers at Royal Holloway. This was a pivotal episode in the trajectory of my arts practice in criss-crossing the boundaries between human and nonhuman worlds, using multiple systems of knowledge to invigorate and cross-fertilise our understanding of, and attentiveness to, other entities. My current interests include ecosystemic thinking and its role with art in imagining environmental futures. The P A A (penguin anticipatory archive) project was an example of how imagery, drawings and ruminations are brought together in a concretionary way. In this case the life of present day penguins at Manly, Sydney, are linked with the Japanese mini sub attacks in WWII and with patterns of wave refraction and water exchange in the harbour. Projects I hope to work on in the future include a collaboration on stygofauna, exploring the relationship between hope and geoaesthetics; and looking for linkages between risk, disaster recovery and small acts of performance.

Perdita Phillips’ work is featured in the Summer 2016 issue of GeoHumanities

Phillips, P. (2016). Night and Day: Anticipating Environmental Futures Through Contemporary Art. GeoHumanities, 2(1), 239-247. doi :10.1080/2373566X.2016.1164535

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