27 Sep 2020


Patch work

By Deb Cleland

Haig Park, Braddon ACT, Australia.


Patch work is a new, participatory installation and performance work by Deb Cleland, currently being developed in You Are Here’s Cahoots program. Patch work explores the group labour and agency of repair and rehabilitation.

Deb invites one participant at a time to join her in collectively creating a patch work to cover a portable aerial rig – with the rig forming a loom and basal structure. Like the epicormic growth of the eucalyptus not killed by Australia’s black summer fires, patches will sprout out from this structure, as a recognition both of harm and damage, but also new possibilities and ongoing life.

“In November 2019, the same day an out of control fire threatened our home for the first of many times in the coming months, I fell at a rehearsal for a Christmas aerial acrobatics show and seriously damaged my knee. I underwent knee surgery two weeks later, and have yet to regain anything like full strength, movement or dexterity. 2020’s immobilisation, coupled with the slow, tedious work of physical rehabilitation, has left much time for contemplation on recovery pathways. As I watch the eucalypts in the forest from my home sprout up their trunks and give themselves one more shot at life, I wonder who I am as an artist now that so few of the physical movements I have been trained in are possible.

At the same time, I am working and writing on “restorative environmental justice” for a postdoctoral fellowship that is asking about how regulators can improve their performance in repairing both relational and environmental harm following criminal acts of pollution. Restorative environmental justice means healing harm through direct participation and accountability of those harmed, and those responsible for the harm, for example through acts of storytelling, dialogue and ecological repair.” – Deb Cleland

Participants will help assemble Patch work, by contributing stories, materials and the physical labour necessary for the patches to be joined together. The form will emerge across three weekends in September.

Patch work requires scraps, a certain level of material abundance. It recognises the impossibility of repair where life has been extinguished, the limits and shape of life. The seams and joins are not erased or hidden, they become the veins of a new assemblage.

Patch work will be collectively assembled over that time – representing an “in company” collection of repair stories – of ongoing, failed and partially successful varieties. Of emotional, physical, individual and collective varieties. Of multi species and anthropocentric varieties. Of mixed media, materials and form varieties.

1 person per session. EOI required to take part in a session. Please complete the form via the booking button above.