Onwards and Upwards, by Safari Lee

Safari Image Cactus GardenOnwards and Upwards optimistically refers to the positive co-existence between people, industry and our natural world. Dumped in a collective pile, the thirty trucks can be seen as people coming together in collaboration. The individuals, governments and organisations share knowledge and find solutions to ecological issues collectively, rather than concentrating on individual gain. The trucks on the higher levels are metaphorically “standing on the shoulders of giants”. This refers to learning from previous lessons and discoveries, and acknowledging the damage we’ve done. With knowledge comes the opportunity to reverse these trends and engage in balanced interactions.

This sculpture can be viewed as a flowering cactus. These tolerant, hardy plants display great beauty, especially when flowering. It’s lower levels are coloured of sand and soil, and the upper tier showing greenery with splashes of pinks for the flowers.  Live cacti are included in the dump truck’s trays in Onwards and Upwards, and they represent the precious but resilient natural world we live in.

“I love trucks. I love their size and power and utility. So it was only time before I would follow in my mum’s footsteps and get my Heavy Vehicle (truck) license. I went on to get a job as a concrete truck driver and drove it across the Sydney Harbour Bridge up to eight times a day.”

Having studied Environmental Science, Lee found it tricky at first to reconcile the diesel-puffing truck with my clean-air ideals. “Countering my natural inclination towards the dichotomous though, I saw trucks usefulness when used in an environmentally sensitive way. Technology and development does not have to be at odds with our natural world. A great example is Eden Gardens Environmental & Social Responsibility plan, which includes using recycled water, solar power and many other sustainable approaches to gardening and powering the buildings. These mindful methods of using ecologically-sound technology and industry benefits the community and environment at large, and is reflected in my sculpture”, says Lee.

She grew up in Sydney’s western suburbs, and moved from Blacktown to live in the inner west. “There’s a big difference between the available gardening space from the suburbs compared to the city”, reflected Lee. “Having only small window sills, I struggled with creating a garden in my flat. However, I recently discovered the perfect plants for my busy, city-living… cactus and succulents. I’m excited to be incorporating these fascinating plants in my work.”

About Safari Lee works with sculpture, jewellery, painting and film. Themes of power, the environment and our society feature in her artwork, and she embraces playfulness as a counterpoint to her formal training. Safari graduated  from Enmore Design Center in 2010, having studied Jewellery Manufacturing and is studying a BVA at Sydney College of the Arts.

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