writings by

some writings by the artist…

The new geologic epoch 2024

Artwork included in the juried publication The new geologic epoch, online exhibition and printed book, Ecoartspace (in press)

Cultivating Slow Making 2023

Reflections on how women artists have overcome adversity to continue their practice as slow art makers (and human beings).

Via? In Mundaring Arts Centre (Ed.), Cultivating slow-making. Mundaring Arts Centre.

Annette Nykiel 2023

review of solo show: Annette Nykiel – Slow-Making Locally. Garland, Loop.

Follow the water 2023

An outcome of the follow the water project:

Follow the water. In C. Bates & K. Moles (Eds.), Living with water: everyday encounters and liquid connections. Manchester University Press. (pp. 176-188)

This chapter considers place-based artistic investigations of the urban drainage of the regional city of Albany/Kinjarling in Western Australia. It presents a range of paired black and white photographs that capture some of the contradictions encountered in a long-term investigation of the geo-bio-socio-cultural network of water that begins with rain falling and moving along drains, through living places, to the Southern Ocean. The Follow the water project was conceived around the concept of porous repair as a way to maintain a contingent – yet effective – position as a human in a more-than-human world.

Volume 8 of Swamphen: a Journal of Cultural Ecology co-edited with Louise Boscacci 2022

Particular Planetary Aesthetics introduction with Louise Boscacci Swamphen: a Journal of Cultural Ecology, 8, 1-7.

Particular Planetary Aesthetics is the title and theme of this Swamphen special issue. It has its origins in Ngā Tūtaki – Encounter/s: Agency, Embodiment, Exchange, Ecologies, the 2019 conference of the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ) held in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa. For this special cross-Tasman event, and from opposite coasts of Australia, we convened panels for participants under two invitational titles: “Affective Encounters, Shadow Traces, and Resonant Naturecultures in the Anthropocene: Particular-planetary aesthetics in the feminist ecosocial turn” and “Encounters with and within the Anthropocene: Speculating on Particular-Planetary Aesthetics.” Our project averred that the work of art in the Anthropocene was under interrogation by contemporary artists, writers, theorists and historians. Connected with this shifting ground, we argued that new energies and collaborations were emerging across the postconventional arts and ecological humanities, creating alternative critical frameworks to engage with: that the human is more-than-human and the social is an eco-social domain in a preternatural age of extinction and climate destruction. We set out to feel the pulse of what contemporary artists and researchers from Aotearoa and Australia were doing, making, speculating on, or writing about in the push and pull—the effects, affects and implications—of the Anthropocene-in-the-making. Our project’s defining call was to explore encounters in a new frame of particular planetary aesthetics: moving from the particular, bodily or affective encounter to trace, reveal or refigure planetary connections, relations and concerns.

In this guest editorial note, we write in the wake of the ravages of climate crisis fires in Australia, as well as the borderless COVID-19 pandemic. We flesh out the project in its beginnings above, and introduce eleven papers and three visual portfolios of art research in practice that respond to our provocations before and after the Auckland conference. Collectively these scholarly and aesthetic works consider, trace, and respond to affective encounters of the particular and the planetary in the capricious spaces of the Anthropocene-in-the-making.

Seeping, maintaining, flooding and repairing: how to act in a both/and world. Swamphen: a Journal of Cultural Ecology, 8, 1-26.

This paper outlines the experiences of a short artist in residency called Follow the water at the Vancouver Arts Centre in Albany, Western Australia that began in November-December 2018. Investigating the local network of urban and peri-urban drainage, the project was an attempt to reframe drains from what they are normally seen as—of a way of transferring ‘problems’ to elsewhere—into a space of reparative engagement. Intimate, makeshift walks were taken with drain allies along road culverts and agricultural drains and through snaky, polluted and weedy country. Walks were recorded with cyanotypes and a further cyanotype workshop was conducted with the public on the subject of local watercourses. Whilst being attentive to the local stories of water, settler history and regeneration, the project nevertheless attempted to problematise the current quasi-legal and commonplace notions which see the flow of water leaving a property downstream (and downslope) as being ‘not my problem’. In a small way, this art project works through the ‘impurity of caring’ (that acts of caring contain the wish that it were not so (Shotwell), at the same time that they are entangled) with a tactical move that I have germed ‘porous repair’. It therefore provides a short example of the complications of thinking through water stories using artistic means.

CSPA Quarterly 36 (both/and) 2022

The artist assembled and edited CSPA Quarterly 36 (both/and). It is available for purchase on magcloud

Letter from the Guest Editor. CSPA Quarterly, 36 (both/and), 6-7. 

It’s not a solution, but an anticipation. CSPA Quarterly, 36 (both/and), 89-97.

Both/and is the role of complicity in social-ecological systems and how each of us struggle to maintain a contingent—yet effective—position as an artist, primate and ecosystem participant. It asks the questions: What happens when artists get involved in complex, difficult issues, where different parties are involved and there might not be such a clear-cut right and wrong? Or, alternatively, when the costs of ambivalence may be impossibly high?

Visual critical essay in The Architectural Review 2022

In an issue themed on stone, a reflection on impurity, complicity and rock love.

Lithic Love. The Architectural Review, vol. 1490, pp. 38-39.

A short text on rock love and the intertwining of personal and bodily histories and extractivist economies: we are all bound up in catastrophe and repair. Lithic indifference can cut both ways — but love can also take many forms.

Embodied Forest book 2021

The video Wattie is embedded into the Ecoartspace Embodied Forest publication

Counter-score 2021

Visual essay Counter-score from a seed orchard can be seen at WalkingLab

Dryandra/Wilgadiny, Western Australia

We walk through what was a seed orchard, what was a field, what was a Mallet plantation, what was woodland, what was the country before and always was and always will be. Rows of experimental Eucalyptus plantings are alive or dead or twisted sticks. These sticks do not obey symmetrical ideals. Branches turning away, shielding themselves from the sun, regrowing after insect attack. Twelve twisted limbs. Run your hands along the smooth, dense, satin surfaces. Paths that are circular and not direct, leading around and looping back. My task is step back from the centre. What’s yours? Slow life and death in the orchard is awaiting names being returned.

Tectonics: bringing together artistic practices united by lithic thinking beyond human scales 2021

Tectonics: bringing together artistic practices united by lithic thinking beyond human scales (designed and edited by the artist) is published digitally by Lethologica Press. It also contains a very short text and images:

En échelon: A story about holes in Tectonics: bringing together artistic practices united by lithic thinking beyond human scales. (pp. 20-21).


A profile of the artist was featured at art.earth before the organisation folded. Now only the member page remans.

A Hole in the archive 2019

A short essay abut the work of Lee Harrop in Ore Core Score (pp. 2-5). Darwin: Lee Harrop.

Fossil (III) book 2019

Fossil (III), Lost Rocks series, A Published Event, Hobart. You can read an excerpt here

Dealing with the runoff 2019

An illustrated pamphlet for a guided walk as part of follow the water

Postcards from the underground (co-authored with Astrida Neimanis) 2019

Neimanis, A., & Phillips, P. Postcards from the Underground. Journal of Public Pedagogies. 4, 127-139.

This article draws lessons from a walkshop organised by the authors to Lithgow, NSW, where participants walked through a park dedicated to former coal-based infrastructures to arrive at the Lithgow mining museum. The aim of the walkshop was to better understand the tensions around groundwater and extraction in Australia. This article focuses on two key elements of the walkshop: (1) First, they interrogate an attempt to engage bodily with an elemental phenomenon—groundwater—that is for the most part inaccessible to human experience. The authors thus draw on the practice of posthuman phenomenology (Neimanis) to explain how bodily attunement to our own wateriness, alongside the “proxy stories” of arts and sciences expertise, can aid in bringing groundwater into lived experience. (2) Second, they ask how walkshopping—as a coming together—can nonetheless hold onto the ambivalences, tensions, and glitches that are part of sharing space in the face of fraught issues such as mining. Here, the authors turn to Lauren Berlant’s recent writing on the commons. They suggest that their walkshop was what Berlant would call ‘training’ in living with the awkward and complicit relations of being in common.

photo portrait by the artist in Garland Magazine 2018

Divining a New Life: Antipodean Encounters in Perth features an outcome of the Antipodean Encounters project with Australian and Taiwanese artists.

Invisible Monsters: a tour of the groundwater pollution of Perth 2018

Invisible Monsters (Fremantle: Lethologica Press) was a post conference tour as part of Quite Frankly on 20 October 2018.

CSPA Quarterly Q20: Self Care 2018

We must catch up is a short article for CSPA Quarterly Q20: Self Care, (pages 36-46, behind a paywall)

Directors’ Cut at John Curtin Gallery 2018

Review: Directors’ Cut at John Curtin Gallery. Artsource Magazine (online).

Catalogue essay for Helen Seiver 2018

The essay explored a particular version of the Australian Gothic in sculpture and painting practice of Bunbury artist Helen Seiver.

Blankets and Rust. In. Helen Seiver: Are we there yet? (pp 2-8) Bunbury, W.A.: Bunbury Regional Art Gallery.

Writings from the Artsource Global City Residency in 2017

Finished, but not finished yet residency: reflection from the 2017 Artsource Global City Residency (October to December), Artspace, Sydney

Wingenretnuh. Sydney, BookMachine. A book produced in one day as part of the VOLUME | Another Art Book Fair.

Depth of surface, haptics and grappling with ‘country’ in a new survey show from Western Australia 2017

A commission by the Print Council for Imprint magazine.

Depth of surface, haptics and grappling with ‘country’ in a new survey show from Western Australia. Imprint, 52(3), 30-32.

An Extended version of Imprint article is available here

Direct address 2016

A small catalogue (and short text) to accompany the direct address exhibition.

Direct address. (Edited by Perdita Phillips) Fremantle: Lethologica Press.

Direct address: Perdita Phillips. In P. Phillips (Ed.), Direct address. Fremantle: Lethologica Press.

Night for Day: Anticipating Environmental Futures through Contemporary Art 2016

Night for Day: Anticipating Environmental Futures through Contemporary Art. GeoHumanities, 2(1), 239-247

Presented in the form of an image essay, the mixed media installation Night for Day (The Owl of Bunbury spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk) (2015) is described and briefly contextualized in relation to more-than-human worlds, local histories and stories, sea level change, and other Anthropogenic trajectories. To create the artwork, the artist explored historical and predicted flooding events in the regional town of Bunbury, Western Australia. She combined, transformed, reconstituted, and rearranged data and material things in a process of investigating how futures might be imagined and anticipated. Representations of southern boobook owls (Ninox novaeseelandiae) made from rainfall maps fly across the installation. Water from Leschenault Inlet (part of Derbal Elaap) was brought into the gallery space. The overall poetics and affective register of material elements of the installation are enhanced by being presented as full spread images.

OCBILs, YODFELs and Biodiversity in Art 2016

OCBILs, YODFELs and Biodiversity in Art: some thought and notes for a short talk about biodiversity and art in the southwest of Western Australia.

Thirteen figurings: reflections on termites, from below 2016

Thirteen figurings: reflections on termites, from below. Animal Studies Journal, 5(1), 23-47. 

field working slow making: the certainty of connection 2016

Artist statement produced as one of a series of foci on artists participating in the field working slow making exhibition at Spectrum Project Space, Edith Cowan University. 

First and last port of call 2015

Catalogue essay for Portals: past present and future. A show featuring 23 emerging and established artists with work based on the port of Fremantle. 

Artistic Practices and Ecoaesthetics in Post-sustainable Worlds 2015

Artistic Practices and Ecoaesthetics in Post-sustainable Worlds in Crouch, C. Kaye, N and Crouch, J. An introduction to sustainability and aesthetics: The arts and design for the environment (55-68) Boca Raton, Florida: Brown Walker Press. 

The Generosity of the Ocean 2015

Short statement for City of Joondalup Community Invitational Art Award 2014 

Artnotes WA correspondent for Art Monthly Australia March 2012 to March 2014

Networks and collaborations: Kynan Tan 2014

Networks and collaborations: Kynan Tan ArtSource Newsletter, August to November, 20-21.

Beautiful Vermin 2014

Beautiful Vermin (Review). Gallery Central, Perth 8 – 29 March 2014. Artlink, 34(2), 114-115. 

Geology, art and imagination: creative propositions for visual representation and cultural narratives 2014

A collaborative paper by Suzette Worden and Perdita Phillips seeking linkages between historical representations in geology and sound in the Anthropocene. 

Perdita Phillips – Sounding and thinking like an ecosystem (interview by Merle Patchett) 2013

Perdita Phillips and Merle Patchett (2013) Sounding and thinking like an ecosystem. Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture. 27 114-128 http://www.antennae.org.uk/ANTENNAE%20ISSUE%2027.pdf 

Observing Across scales 2013

Observing across scales: Broome Bird Observatory as a site of multiple exchanges (updated version with commentary on the image essay) published in Animal Studies Journal

Walk ’til you run out of water 2012

An image essay on walking, environmental change and resilience beautifully published in Performance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts 

Fieldwork with bowerbirds 2012

An image essay written for Merle Patchett’s Alternative Ornithologies themed issue of Antennae

Tarsh Bates: profile

written for ArtSource summer newsletter in 2012. 

The summer flurries catalogue statement 2011

A short text written about the summer flurries work which was destined for the Visceral catalogue. 

Observing across scales 2010

An image essay on Broome Bird Observatory. It was originally selected for publication in a proposed journal issue about animals and place. 

the case of the lengthening legs 2010

An essay about the invasion of northern Australia by cane toads presented at the Animal Movements Animal Motions conference. A slightly shorter version was published in J. Bull 2000 (Ed.), Animal Movements • Moving Animals: essays on direction, velocity and agency in humanimal encounters (pp. 161-195). Uppsala: Uppsala University. 

clotted life and brittle waters 2010

An image essay on The Sixth Shore spatial sound project and the relationship between art and the geological and geomorphological knowledge about Lake Clifton. The text explores the intersection of art and ecosystemic thinking and complexity. 

Why unruly? 2010

Written for the unruly ecologies: biodiversity and art symposium Friday 26 November to Sunday 28 November 2010, it was a short speculation on takng on an unbalanced ecology might affect our understandings of ecology and environmentalism. 

artist page and article proposal: fieldwork and performance 2009

The text of an artist’s page and article proposal for a 2009 publication (currently seeking a publishing outlet). 

resilience 2007

Some short notes about developing a sustainable practice (in more than just one way) for the ArtSource Newsletter March 2007: Resilience (art and environments).

fieldwork/fieldwalking PhD thesis 2006

A low resolution version of the PhD thesis. Bona fide researchers can contact the artist for a full copy free of charge. 

A recipe for bad environmental art 2005

A pdf of the short text originally published in Artlink:

Anonymous Artist (who has made both good and bad environmental art). (2005). A recipe for bad environmental art. Artlink, 25(3 Stirring), 27. 

Doing art and doing cultural geography 2003

An image essay (in its initial configuration) written at the beginning of the PhD for the Australian Geographer. 

Objects in the field Master of Arts thesis 1999

Musings on objects, environments and ephemerality written at a time when the artist’s practice was being destroyed by her studies.