New work: How lonely lies this land, once so full of people
This is the first work of a series of works that centre of the theme of Tasmanian Reconciliation. The title for this work and the series is "how lonely lies this land, once so full of people", and this is also written on the bottom right of this painting. This title does not mean eliminated, but describes that the once prosperous Tasmanian Aborigines were heavily persecuted. The series will interrogate three themes: remembering, lamenting and restoration.
breathe, shine, and seek to mend
Title: Breathe, Sine, and Seek to Mend wood, hessian, rope, and installed in the sanctuary of Hobart Baptist Church. Artist Statement: “I wanted to ask questions about cover-up and about the Church in general. I wanted to explore the way the Church has used power to reveal and bury truth, to follow Jesus or hide from him. Ultimately I am asking whether truth can actually be buried?” Prayer that accompanied the work: “Jesus, I wanted to seek you, but I drifted away, covered you up--Help me give seeking you another go. Amen” This art installation was installed at Hobart Baptist Church, during the Dark Mofo Festival, from June 16-21, 2019.
Shorelines Art Installation
for the Tasmanian Centenary of Anzac November 4-9, 2018, Tasmanian Parliament House lawn, Hobart
Shorelines Michael Henderson art installation EUCALYPTUS wood and acrylic. 15,000 pieces.
Installed on the Tasmanian Parliament House Lawn, November 2018 Shorelines speaks of the hope of peace.
The ideas in this work centred on two reflections. The first was on the optimism of the First World War, that it might be “the war to end war”. It is easy to see this as naive. But I considered this hope for peace to be part of why they chose to engage. The second reflection was that peace is not the absence of conflict, but something you can create in the middle of conflict, powerfully described by people like Jesus, who brought peace into conflict through offering compassion, mercy, forgiveness and hope.
Shorelines was also built around two images. It used our Australian shoreline as a metaphor for going on a journey, a threshold moment, something Tasmanians and Australians had to cross to first leave our country, then to enter the conflict, and finally to return to Australia, either physically or spiritually.It also used the image of the Gallipoli Lifeboat. To symbolise peace. And by creating unique boats from the variable forms naturally found in eucalyptus wood. There was one boat created for each of the 15,000 Tasmanian men and women who served. The boats were laid out on the lawn like waves lapping a shore: Shorelines. The journey home was completed when the boats continued past the shoreline, and into the general public's homes after the installation.
The general public was invited to walk through the installation.
Michael's work is commonly rich in symbolism and metaphor, that draws attention to our culture and history and speaks of hope for our world.
Sometimes Peace by mark tredinnick written for the Shorelines Installation laying of the last boats ceremony
Down in the saltmarsh along the lake’s shore, A single egret leans among grasses—who are What persistence looks like, a weary brown uproar, A long time coming—and she is a furled flag Of surrender, as if she’s given up reluctantly
On giving in. From well before I woke in the mouth Of dawn beside you, the butcherbird’s unrelenting call To arms—or perhaps it’s to prayer, it’s hard to say— Has been flaying the peace of morning more peaceful yet With phrases full of violent intent. Three swans, scored
On the water like three black notes in the composer’s Finished phrase, swim between the fingers, poised to play Them, of three roughbarked apples. Farther out, a pelican, Trawling morning waters, gets himself an education For a breakfast among a school of bream. A single
Shag runs a straight dark topographic line, a grace Note, north to south, across the shallows. Friarbird Cadges cigarettes against the raucous outcry of The wattlebirds. The call to arms of butcherbird Cries on. Magpie lark and sheoak, paperbark and nesting
Herons and sedge: the whole morning rises up against What cannot be endured: the ping of emails coming in Like ordnance, lines of thought at odds with what Sustains the earth and oils the peaceful engine Of the heart. Sometimes you find yourself
At war. Most often with yourself. This morning It’s the wrens at war with solitude in the grass beneath The trees. Sometimes war’s a song you have to join And sing until it’s sung. Sometimes peace will not Endure until you find a boat and cross a world
Of other people’s seas to talk some violence down By doing some yourself. Until it ends. Until you break The lines of killing thought and spawn a space for love. Sometimes peace cannot be kept by keeping it; peace Keeps those who stand for what peace makes. No sure lines
Defend against bad moves time wants to bust-- Not the rows you harrow in the rusting fields; not The lines your people’s feet sing up walking Your country awake; not the lines of hope, the rope That swings your children gaily in the orchard of your eye.
And on these shores a hundred years ago, the sea Washed up a dozen foreign feuds and currencies and fables, Whose morals called you away. And so you left The factory, the dinner table, the field, fifteen Thousand reasons not to go, but nonetheless,
A war to end all wars to join, and so you boarded Boats and sailed. You fooled yourself you went For fun; you said you went for Empire, for Honour, For six weeks’ tops. It was for years; for some, it was For keeps. For war will maim or murder no matter
Why you think you go. No matter that You didn’t pick the fight or field. No war Can end all war; no peace will ever hold. But it seems right to thank the souls who try. Flight would fail the birds, you feel,
If few birds chose to fly. And peace would Fail if no one said a word for it or held its lines. And here today, we lie along this closer shore In grasses, inside the privilege of peace Our private wars, my love, have won.
And now you break a pumpkin scone, like bread, And cast its several pieces, like the Lord himself, Upon the grass. Nothing comes to claim it until At nine the sun breaks out, and a wattlebird Comes in shyly for the kill and soon word
Will be scent among the other birds and beings Who comprise a peace we keep so deep it threatens To end all war. Three swans swim the lake again, two herons Make off with the afternoon, and in the sheoaks older Voices sing. And all the words they sing become the shore.
Charcoal on paper, 1.2m x 1.2m each, 16 drawings in the series.