Sarah Goffman | March 2017
Having finished installing my exhibition at Wollongong Art Gallery, I passed a football sized and shaped rock in the street. It was casually sitting on the pavement close to a shop window. Had it been put there? Dropped there? Grey and smooth, with a shattered right side area, perhaps a river rock. I saw that rock in passing, or it saw me, and I said to myself ‘if only I had seen this the day before yesterday, I would’ve grabbed it’. Because a rock means so much; it implies the presence of the past, and represents Earth. Too late and too heavy to pick up, the rock sits in my brain on hold. I might have to begin my next exhibition with a rock just to make amends.
On the train from Sydney to Wollongong I always sit in the bottom of the quiet carriage, near the back, next to a double window for maximum viewing pleasure. Going down, I sit on the left hand side; coming back I like to sit on the left till the first stop, Thirroul, so I can enjoy the mystical escarpment, but then I move to the right so I get full and wide-distance ocean views. Once I was on the train and a teenager declared loudly, “I hate the ocean”…hm.
I check the window for hair product right away when I sit down and give it a wipe with a cloth if necessary. It’s a bit disgusting how much gunk adheres to the window glass and I don’t want to have to peer through it. I have promised myself that when I complete my thesis, one of the things I would do would be to go out on a train cleaning bombardment. Armed with cloths, vinegar and newspaper I will give some carriages a once over.
There’s a rock that we travel past outside of Stanwell Park, which always catches my eye. It’s huge and egg shaped with blue spray paint on the underside, looking like a scribble. In my diary I’ve written “has been placed there”. But I don’t really know, do I? I think about that rock and how big it is, how I’d love to have it in my home, or to sit next to it. I think about the graffiti on it, and that vandalism which only serves to accentuate the natural colours of the rock.
A few weeks ago I got the chance to have a day at Wattamolla, in the Royal National Park. It was a great, warm sunny day and the ocean was surprisingly calm. We got to the carpark early, around 9am, only to be greeted by the hugest pile of plastic plates, plastic forks, plastic bags, dozens of water bottles and foul smelling containers. It was like a party of fifty had had chicken and chilli take-aways, leaving the entire (I’m not exaggerating) mess on the ground, next to the (empty) bins…fuck! We cleaned it up of course, getting stinking sauce all over us. Whoever left that is a real asshole. I pity them. Down at the beach was heaven, and we sat near the rocks on the far left. I couldn’t stand to look at the giant beauties, as they had been spray painted with (blue) tags, and there was such a discrepancy between their natural wonder and the offensive tags, it hurt me to see it. We went for a walk around the lagoon, and kept finding human rubbish tossed and discarded. I recall going there years ago, and finding a full six pack of Coronas, a chopping board and knife set, and all the packaging that had made that picnic into a reality…I still have the chopping board and knives (we drank the beers). But really, really!
We waded into the lagoon and found a rock facing the water, pristine and perched like the holy Mother of God. I felt fortunate that we explored sufficiently to find it, and it sits in my mind, giving me hope for humanity, hope for nature and hope for life as it persists.
See Sarah Goffman’s exhibition, I am a 3-D Printer, at the Wollongong Art Gallery, March 10—June 18, 2017.