During his residency, Chris Booth worked on-site creating a kinetic living sculpture at The Farm. Titled Waljin Beela, the work is a site-specific, culturally-responsive installation, composed mostly of stone and organic materials. It was informed by the engagement of Indigenous custodians and research into the natural history of the area. We are honoured that Waljin Beela is Booth’s first sculpture in Western Australia.
At the beginning of his residency, Booth envisioned a woman in the contours of the land. Following discussions with Elaine Clocherty, Wardandi Elder Vivienne Brockman, an anthropologist, a geologist and some of the local community, Booth began to conceptualise Waljin Beela. The concept for this artwork emerged as a metaphorical waljin beela or navel, making it the centre of a body - a female body in this case. A navel, also speaks as a metaphor to the centrality of water in the Indigenous cultural matrix and alludes to the classical ideas of the omphalos stone and the genius loci or spirit of place. The work is a circular mound, formed by clearing a circle of turf, stacking jarrah logs in the centre, covering the structure with mineral lime, then setting broken slabs of limestone on edge in a spiral to form the final surface. Like Booth’s previous living works, the mound will change in shape and colour over time as natural agents alter its components.
Having the privilege of working on such broad and often visionary projects, with diverse cultures in many countries over many years, has allowed me to develop meaningful principles for making my land art. The most important underlying principle of all, has been to create work that promotes a sense of balance, harmony and respect for our precious earth and all that lives on her.
Chris Booth has made site specific sculptures across Europe, Australia, the USA and New Zealand. These include the Kroller Muller in Holland, various works at Gibbs Farm in New Zealand, as well as Wurrungwuri which was created in the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens.