Dabiyil Wunjayi (Water Today) by Elisa Jane Carmichael, 2021

Audio descriptions: Artworks in the exhibition Thinking into Being: QUT Alumni Triennial.

Dabiyil Wunjayi (Water Today) by Elisa Jane Carmichael, 2021.

Elisa Jane CARMICHAEL Dabiyil Wunjayi (Water Today) 2020, cyanotype on cotton (technical assistance: Renata Buziak). Courtesy of the artist and Onespace Gallery. Photo: Louis Lim.

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Dabiyil Wunjayi (Water Today) by Elisa Jane Carmichael, 2021.

This artwork is a cyanotype print on a large square piece of cotton fabric, measuring almost 3 metres by 3 metres. It is displayed horizontally on a large, low plinth about 10 centimetres high.

‘Cyanotype’ refers to a printing process that produces a brilliant blue print. The process entails arranging objects on top of paper or fabric that has been treated with a photosensitive solution and laying it out flat in the sun for a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the conditions. The print develops when the paper or fabric is immersed in cold, running water. The procedure was discovered in the mid-19th century, and cyanotypes were used by the construction industry well into the 20th century to create low-cost copies of architectural drawings, known as blueprints.

Carmichael created this work on the shorelines of Minjerribah. Onto the sheet of cotton, she placed objects such as washed-up fishing nets and rope, sand and turtles alongside circular woven artworks created by her mother, Sonja Carmichael, which incorporate marine debris. The shapes of these objects appear white and light blue, contrasting with the surrounding dark blue areas that were exposed to the sun.

Elisa Jane Carmichael is a Quandamooka woman. Quandamooka people are the Traditional Owners of the waters and lands of and around Mulgumpin (known as Moreton Island), Minjerribah (known as North Stradbroke Island), the Southern Moreton Bay islands and South Stradbroke Island.

As part of this work, a speaker plays sounds of nature that Carmichael recorded on Country: waves lapping at the shore, birds chirping. The organic shapes in the print (circles, knotted rope, twisted fishing nets) give the image a sense of movement. One can imagine these objects floating in the gentle waves. Laid flat, this deep blue artwork mimics the ocean that it references. The artist explains that the objects represented in this work invite us ‘to look deeper into our waters, reminding us to always look after Country’.