Altering the Balance

Materials: ink, gouache, Camphor Laurel timber

Technique: calligraphy

Size: twelve cubes, each 7 x 7 x 7cm, 21 x 28 x 7 cm (arranged geometrically), up to 40 x 40 x 30 cm (arranged randomly)

Description: The Camphor Laurel tree, an introduced species, is invading Queensland's native forests. It is proving to be a ‘stumbling block’ in the environment. Interestingly, it is only after the tree is felled (and is no longer a threat to the habitat) that the fragrance and interesting colour and grain in the timber is revealed - thus proving that sometimes something beautiful can be salvaged from amidst seemingly-desperate situations.

The blocks contain quotations about the importance of preserving the world’s natural forests, and not upsetting the fragile balance of our environment. The texts are written in brown and green tones - representing the cycle of decay and regeneration in nature, and also in human thought processes. Just as people see things from different perspectives, the texts are written at various angles. 

The words are legible when the blocks are arranged in three rows and four columns. By rotating the blocks other sets of quotations become visible on the other sides, and sometimes the words become jumbled if the order of the blocks is upset, or if the blocks are randomly stacked. Thus the viewer can decide to make sense of the message, or to create chaos. This arbitrary manipulation of the text mirrors man’s haphazard impact on the precarious balance of the natural world. 

Note that when the blocks are arranged so that the text is legible, the direction of the grain and the variation in colours are haphazard. This symbolises the upheaval and mis-alignment caused by displacing living things from their natural surroundings. Sometimes the ink bleeds into the wood, showing that the consequences of our actions are often unpredictable, and not as we would wish! 

Featured in the catalogue and selected for display in the “ArtistTree” exhibition which toured throughout Queensland during 2002 and 2003.
Displayed in my solo exhibition “Colourful Language” at Gallery 119 in 2004.
Selected for publication in “Practical Calligraphy” by Peter Taylor, Hinkler Books ISBN 9781741855647 in 2010.
Selected for publication in “500 Handmade Books volume 2” - Lark Books ISBN 781454707530
In 2013. 
Purchased by a private collector in Queensland.


© Copyright 2014 Tricia Smout. All images contained in this site are under automatic copyright to the artist.

Apart from fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act,

no part of any image may be reproduced by any process without written permission of the artist.


Enquiries should be addressed to the artist - please see Contact page for details.