Feng Xue, Helen Chan / China
Describe a marginalized person you choose.
The person’s major condition you are trying to deal with.
1. Janet who was a victim of the 2018 bushfire in Numbugga NSW Australia suffered from sadness at the loss of her home, photos and letters from family and friends, and collections through her travels around the world.
2. Angry and upset with the number of lives lost from local animals such as joeys, goannas, snakes, and all sorts of lifeforms which created the energy of Numbugga.
3. Loss of native plants that were painstakingly planted by her for the local wildlife.
Describe the design intent for the chosen person.
1. We want to destablise her memory in order for her to revisit the disaster in a safe environment and enable her to reflect and accept the reality.
2. To resignify Janet’s adverse memory with a change in perspective to the hope of rebirth.
Bushfire is one of the most commonly occurring disasters in Australia - a country known for its abundant bushland. The cost of bushfire can be the loss of a home, memories, or lives. Our aim is to respond to the emotions and adversities of Janet, a 75-year-old school teacher who was a victim of the 2018 bushfire in Numbugga NSW whose story resonates with many also impacted by bushfires. Besides the loss of her home, Janet has lost irreplaceable items such as photos of family and friends, letters from her parents and students, and many artefacts which she collected from her travels around the world. Her sadness extends to the loss of native plants which were painstakingly planted around her home as well as the local wildlife.
The true acceptance of loss is not to forget but to resignify the memory. The aim is to retrieve the memory to destabilise the original trace so we can interfere and resignify it (Piñeyro et al., 2013).
The shelter first acts as a memorial to the loss. It reminds us of the disaster and acceptance of it. Due to the traumatic experience, Janet suffered both physically and mentally. For her, the first step to recovery is to reflect and accept that this loss is irreversible.
A further meaning of the shelter is to redefine Janet’s memory with a change in perspective to the hope of rebirth. Bushfires are often seen as a natural disaster, but in fact it can be important to the local ecological system. Fires destroy old vegetation which in turn gives nutrients back to the earth for the new growth. In Australia, the seeds of certain plants can only be released by heat and smoke allowing for their reproduction. Janet is one of many who chose to inhabit in nature. The shelter encourages Janet to understand and embrace the cycles of nature. Like the seed, Janet is the hope to rebuild her home.
The form of the shelter is an array of timber panels, representing a book of memories. It enables Janet to look through each page to the ember and ruins.
The top of the shelter is formed by ‘tree branches’. It covers Janet under the charred canopy which has been destroyed.
The perforated panels are the totem of the shelter. It transforms light whether from fire or sun into stars. Over time, the stars gather and form the ring of the seed in its ceremony, celebrating hope.
MATERIAL / INSTALLATION
2700mm x 1200mm x 24mm plywood modules have been selected due to the theme and feasibility. Three plywood panels are end lap joined to form one big panel. The tree branches act as horizontal beams stabilising the top of the shelter. At the bottom, slotting joint has been used to connect the shelter to its foundation which is covered by earth.
Due to the timber joint techniques, the shelter can be disassembled and reassembled at different sites.