Laced around the fringes of Port Phillip Bay in Victoria are vestiges of how close the Second World War came to our own port. Crumbling concrete bunkers that were originally built into cliff faces to ambush the enemy as they navigated the narrow heads, now only shelter the occasional squatter. Sand blown and weather worn, their steel reinforcing rods burst and rusting—they remain as distant sentinels, looking over an ocean view of only cargo ships and gulls.
There is another structure stationed around the periphery of our city: tiny wooden outposts cobbled together with slats of treated pine, dry and wiry saltbush creeping up to their edge. The bird hide offers the same elongated landscape view of the world. Maybe their only difference is between wood and cement? The internal darkness of both enables the viewer to remain invisible.
In the exhibition Bird Hide and Bunker Catherine Evans and Caroline Phillips draw on the parallels between these two structures in order to uncover how we navigate our contemporary world – through the body, war, nature and the environment. In the process of making the work we ask ourselves, and then the viewer: how do these structures we build hold us? How do we observe the world? How do we protect ourselves against nature, and vice versa?
Evans and Phillips have both developed independent multi-disciplinary art practices, which both draw on industrial and craft materials, photography and video. Having studied together at the Victorian College of the Arts, they have exhibited together in a number of group shows. This is their first collaborative project where they will build upon elements common to both their practices: the body, materiality, feminism, architecture and the environment.
PHOTOGRAPHY CATHERINE EVANS