An Expanse of Eons is a seven-metre by five-and-a-half-metre ‘floorpaper’, created specifically for the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre foyer by South Australian artist Sera Waters. Across her practice, Waters uses traditional craft and home-making techniques to examine Australian histories, celebrate the knowledge and creativity of ‘women’s work’, while interrogating colonisation, settlement and shifting ecologies.
To make this work Waters has transformed a woollen longstitch by photographing, enlarging and printing it at a scale more than ten times larger than the original. The result is an expansive floorpaper upon which visitors can walk onto and into. The imagery of the floorpaper grew from both Waters’ experiences and memories of growing up in the South East, as well as photographs, historical accounts and materials gathered during a research trip to Mount Gambier in March 2020.
Visually the work resembles a cross-section of a tree stump, comprised of colours and layers which draw upon and reflect the unique topography, ecology and histories of the region. The centre of the stump begins with a circular ‘universe’ or night sky, from which layers emanate out to reference cave systems, lakes, the pine industry, soil strata, mineral deposits and sediment. The outer layers include fences, bitumen and buildings, recognising the changes wrought to the landscape since settlement.
Through this work Waters conveys the complex layers of natural and human histories in the Limestone Coast, accumulated and entangled across deep time.
This artwork has been commissioned by Country Arts SA as a complementary outcome to the touring exhibition Sera Waters: Domestic Arts, currently on display at the Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre from 11 September - 31 October 2021.
Photographs Astyn Reid