Ten Deserts | Beth George + Emerald Wise + Kate Fitzgerald

To observe the nation as an artwork – to gaze at its surface through the lens of a satellite – is one of the great pleasures of our time. Few can forget the first time they opened Google Earth and sought out their own house as a way of locating themselves within the world, and were able to say, “here I am.” The consciousness of the plan view is one unique to the technology of our age.

To drift over the continent in this way is to see the country’s profound geology written across its surface. Not unlike the marbles and concretes that comprise the NGA, these are accretions in space with time, mass and weather as the instruments that drew them.

Ten Deserts utilises the ‘grid’ established by the loom to create a site onto which the graphical delights of the aerial view of the country are played out. Each figure suspended in the space of the tapestry represents one of our ten major deserts. We tour the tapestry as a transect across their manifold colours and textures. These figures are whimsical, like the strange subjects of surrealist paintings, borrowing their colours and shapes from encounters with the deserts at various scales. The space between their wefted figures, provided by clear rows of warp thread, allows for the casting of their shadows on the wall beyond.

Seen in the extraordinary detail of the satellite image, the veins, ridges, sweeps, bleeds and fans of our deserts occur in every colour. Contrary to a popularly held picture of Australia, our deserts are not just red, they are vivid white, deep brown, indigo, cyan, green and violet.