Exhibitions / Life, Stitching / Pines and dark spaces

Pines and dark spaces 2012 by Sera Waters

Pines and dark spaces  2012

Linen, cotton, string, handmade beads, card, leather, felt, stuffing

approximately 380 mm x 200 mm

Photo Grant Hancock


Cave writings


I grew up in the South East of South Australia, surrounded by pines, nestled within limestone. From this environment I developed awareness of dark and underground spaces; of the teeming currents of water and open caverns below the land’s seemingly solid surface, and of the happenings on the forest outskirts of town. These spaces, for me, overflow with layers and stories, some experienced and many second-hand or make-believe. They offer alternative ways of thinking to the usual narratives of day to day life, where the unexpected, unseemly and perhaps the unwanted, has its own place to exist.

Caves, tunnels, and caverns can lead to other, perhaps more magical and transformative, worlds. They hold in their earthly layers portals for remembering the long history of this land (and the dramatic changes which it must have seen in the last two centuries).Blanche cave, of the Naracoorte caves, is layered with multiple stories including a calcified Indigenous skeleton which was shockingly stolen not once but twice...never to be recovered. Caves are bodily; our first homes are located within a watery cavern, and as humans we find home in cave-like shelters; my early ancestors when first arriving in South Australia in 1838 likely found shelter in Port Misery caves. We are comforted and enveloped by caves, or swallowed and contained.

Like caves, the pines surrounding the towns of the South East (yet weren’t even conceived of in the early days of George French Angas’ South Australia Illustratedwatercolours) are dark and comforting. They offer muteness, a space where unchecked happenings can occur, but aren’t always known beyond the perimeters of the lines of trees. Hidden within the pines of the South East are openings into the underworld, locally known as Hell’s hole, or the Devil’s Punchbowl; perhaps these are mouths of the earth, swallowing up all dark happenings.

These are the ways I think about my world; as caves, dark forests, layers and interconnecting underground systems which entwine the ghosts and histories of South Australia with current life.