ross mcleod


Each year we venture into the Australian bush, seeking inspiration for a design aesthetic from the Australian landscape and its penetrating white light. These camps provide an opportunity to tap the collective energy of a group of people engaged in an intense educational experience. The long straight drives through the Australian countryside, the sharing of cooking and cleaning duties, the relaxed rhythm of a day's work, and the celebratory banquets, games and cabarets at night forge a body of individuals into a comfortable group.

Each trip focuses on a wide range of interpretative responses to the condition of landscape and environment, exploring the relationships and phenomena which define a place in order to develop original techniques of observation and recording. The map and journal are the perceptual tools used to weave a thread of observation, describing and defining a particular environment from embarkation to return.

Once we settle in a campsite, the development of a relationship with the immediate surroundings becomes the focus of our activities. Observations of shifts in the environment become a way of defining spatiality. The monitoring of sensorial properties such as topology, sunlight, air currents, smells, textures, movement and activity offer an interpretative framework for the development of group and personal projects. These perceptions manifest themselves into earthworks, which express and identify a connection with the land.

At the end of this week-long immersion into nature we attempt to capture and record the perceptions developed, through the invention of representational strategies, articulating and interweaving the accumulated drawings, photos, images and installations. These mappings inhabit and supersede the reality of our experiences at the camp. They act as a containment of memory to embody the essence of the environment and our experience within it.

Trips into the continent have included discovering the rich diversity of ecosystems found in Wilson's Promontory National Park on the southern-most tip of the mainland; drifting along the beaches of Gippsland and the Great Ocean Road; scaling mountain ranges in the Grampians of central Victoria; floating serenely in house boats on the Murray River; watching the sun set and the moon rise among the ancient, surreal lunar dune-scapes of Lake Mungo, New South Wales; holed up in the underground hotels and opal mines of Coober Pedy, South Australia; and taking in the vast horizon and endless sky of Uluru in the dead heart of the continent, over 2000 kilometres from Melbourne.