Deb Mostert: Recovery the Flood Objects Project

Recovery the Flood Objects Project

Before the floods Kate and her husband had moved back in with her folks at Chelmer to save money as they were expecting a baby and they brought all their possessions with them. When the Chelmer home went under water they lost two household’s worth of objects. Heavily pregnant, Kate was banished from the potentially health threatening mud and so was left out of the salvage process.Kate is an artist and on the first day of cleanup her whole studio was dumped in the heap out the front as the ceiling had collapsed and nothing seemed identifiable let alone salvageable. When told nothing was saved and all her paintings and materials were gone she was devastated. Some days later her cousin bravely went through the stinking piles and found a small bunch of brushes. Kate had hundreds of brushes collected over many years and to get a handful back was wonderful. Amazingly they were some of her favourites.The silver engraved childhood egg cup was one of the few things from her childhood that was saved and that she was able to pass onto her little baby boy. The Christmas angel was important because it meant so much to Kate’s mum. The family has a tradition of gifting a special decoration, some carted home from overseas, some remembering past loved ones and this was probably the oldest of these, well worn and often repaired. Not many decorations survived the flood but to have the angel back up the top of the tree meant that things were returning to normal and in this painting she hovers over the objects with quiet poignancy.I chose to appropriate a Juan Cotan like arrangement for this piece and the disparity of the objects doesn’t seem to matter when one knows the family ties that bind them.

“Benitta lives in an adjoining unit to her sister in Goodna. They were waiting for police to come back to advise them if they should evacuate when it became very apparent that the water was not waiting. They fled to higher ground and watched as everything went under. Only a few weeks out from a major exhibition of her works Benitta lost all her possessions including 2 years of artworks and all her art materials. Her home of 8 years had been damaged beyond habitation and her sister was in the same situation.When I came to visit Benitta was back in her newly furbished unit, very slick and uncluttered. She describes a strange feeling of slight panic when she contemplates getting her art materials out and spreading out over the unit to work as was her previous method. It seems to her that there has been a shift in her psyche and now she feels more comfortable with less clutter and more order and structure.We discussed what objects she would like to offer but she really didn’t have much to choose from. Nearly everything was destroyed or trashed by well meaning but insensitive mud army volunteers. The box was one of a pair that she had bought and lugged all around Paris and was so glad to have found in all the mud. We selected a piece from a collection of costume jewelry a friend washed for her and her sisters’ novelty Piano clock, complete with mud still inside it.”

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