James Darling: Instinct, Imagination, Physical Work

'James Darling: Instinct, Imagination, Physical Work' focuses on the environmental based installations of James Darling. Darling, a farmer and conservationist, utilises art to draw attention to environmental concerns including species extinction, salinity and water management to name just a few.
James Darling: Instinct, Imagination, Physical Work
James Darling: Instinct, Imagination, Physical Work James Darling: Instinct, Imagination, Physical Work focuses on the environmental based installations of James Darling. Darling, a farmer and conservationist, utilises art to draw attention to environmental concerns including species extinction, salinity and water management to name just a few. This book has a similar structure to the other SALA (South Australian Living Artist) publications, beginning with an extended essay followed by an image gallery. The essay introduces Darling’s work by breaking it into smaller subsections that focus on different aspects. It offers a mix of biographical information about Darling and his early career as an artist, combined with information on the conceptual aspects of his art practice as well as a focus on some of the main series that have occupied his artistic life. This approach results in a good all round reference on Darling’s life and work. Darling’s works are striking in their presence offering a uniquely Australian feel to ecologically based art and is described as a ‘progenitor of Ecocentric art and a master of the ordinary’. Rating highly amongst his environmental artist contemporaries like Robert Simpson, Walter De Maria, Richard Long, Andy Goldsworthy or James Turrell, Darling brings a distinctly Australian feeling to this contemporary movement. While Darling works across a variety of mediums, including photography and video, his mallee root installations are the most striking. This is highlighted by the use of an image of one of them for the front cover of this book. Mallee roots are an iconic Australian resource, a fact that Daniel Thomas, the author of James Darling: Instinct, Imagination, Physical Work highlights in his introductory essay. Darling uses mallee roots to construct large scaled installations both in the open landscape and in the gallery, which draw attention to a specific issue. His Mallee Fowl Nests, first exhibited in 1994, highlighted the then endangered Mallee Fowl, recreating and enlarging their carefully constructed mounds. Mallee roots are carefully interlocked into a solid mass. In their gnarled, irregular, misshapen shapes, they are carefully placed to form a clean solid form that has strength and dominance over the space it is exhibited in. This can be seen in the image gallery included in this book. James Darling: Instinct, Imagination, Physical Work is well written and provides a good balance of historical, biographical, factual and artistic information. It includes a chronology of his life and artwork as well as a selected list of his exhibitions, public art, film, theatre and writing. The book concludes with a list of further readings, providing a good reference for those interested in learning more. Daniel Thomas has a background in modern history and has been a curator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and director of the Art Gallery of South Australia. He has written extensively on Australian art. James Darling: Instinct, Imagination, Physical Work is part of the best selling SALA series from Wakefield Press. James Darling: Instinct, Imagination, Physical Work Details Title: James Darling: Instinct, Imagination, Physical Work Author: Daniel Thomas Genre: Art; Environmental Art Publisher: Wakefield press ISBN: 186254 568 5 RRP: $45.00 AUD $59.90 NZD Available now

Jade Wildy

Monday 31 August, 2009

About the author

Jade Wildy is an art theorist and historian based in Adelaide, Australia and she is currently studying for a Masters of Art History at the University of Adelaide. Jade holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts, with a major in ceramics from the University of South Australia. Jade aspires to become an art writer and researcher to pursue her love of visual art and art history. Her current research interests centre around contemporary art with a particular focus on Environmental Art, but she also has a love for psychology, biology and contemporary culture through art, music and dance. Jade enjoys working in her established home studio, as well as fiction and arts writing, and have written numerous reviews for ArtsHub Australia on both visual and performing arts in addition to several book reviews.