‘Terraforming’ refers to the deliberate manipulation of an environment to make it capable of sustaining life. Artist Jamie North turned this term into a noun and applied it to his series of sculptures exhibited in Sarah Cottier Gallery in Paddington, Australia. A set of marble and concrete pillars poetically filled with plants, ‘Terraforms’ is supposed to act as a relic of the gallery’s imagined archeology. With an almost encyclopedic botanical knowledge and careful curation, North filled the pillars with native Australian plants, such as trailing vines, orchids and lithophytes. By choosing only materials coming from waste or industrial by-products such as coal-ash or white marble, the artist explored the theme of art’s possibilities for re-use.
The materials, often associated with monumental sculpture and architecture, provide further reference points to archaeology and the artefact. Crafted by hand, each pillar can be seen as a painting in which the discarded products of heavy industry are given new life; transformed from the realm of waste to that of art. Owing to the dense planting within, the works continue to evolve over the time, suggesting their inner dichotomy. These extraordinary sculptures simultaneously invoke of ideas of progress and collapse, industry and ruin, melancholy and triumph.