Ephemera in the Mist

straw figure in rainforest
Straw Lady

The villagers of Paluma, high in the rainforest an hour or two north of Townsville, seem to have been collectively inspired by the city’s ‘Strand Ephemera.’

Their ‘Ephemera in the Mist’ last weekend emulated Townsville by presenting a series of ‘ephemeral’ sculptures and installations beside the main road and threaded along a tiny walking track through the rainforest on the edge of town, and went one better by complementing that show with a more conventional exhibition in the community hall, stalls selling art and craft works, and workshops.

Visitor numbers on Sunday were good without making it feel crowded. The weather helped the event live up to its name with mist, fine drizzle, brief showers and sunny breaks on a five minute rotation. We enjoyed the change, actually, after so many months without rain in town. I don’t know which artwork won the ‘people’s choice’ award but we had no doubt of our own favourite, Marion Gaemers’ nearly life-size Straw Lady sitting comfortably on a mossy rock beside the tiny creek.

Other sculptures were less ephemeral, or more. Unfired clay sculptures were already dissolving back into the ground; fragile constructions of sticks and twine modelled on bower-birds’ bowers were not going to last much longer; and the mandala by Sue Taylor explicitly, and beautifully, celebrated ‘the cycles of birth, growth, death and renewal of the rainforest plants.’

Leaf-litter mandala

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, sand mandalas are made to be equally ephemeral; their value as meditation objects is in the focus needed to construct them and they are ritually unmade soon after they are completed. Here’s one I saw made by the Gyuto monks in Hobart in 2008:

Sand mandala
Sand Mandala
Mandala detail
Mandala detail

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