'The Snowman' is a work in progress by Sally Rees and Matt Warren produced while artists in residence at Burnie High School (our old school!) in 2014. This video documents a test installation of the work in progress at BHS in June 2014.
"A part of our collective Burnie memory is a small section of the Bass Highway past Chasm Creek, near what was the Tioxide factory and where the trees and surrounding landscape were once all white - covered in titanium oxide dust that leaked from the processing plant. As children, the explanation for the sudden section of white trees eluded us and they were simply an iconic and dreamlike symbol of the place we were growing up in. As much as the rust red water in the beach in front and the plumes of white smoke that endlessly billowed out from the pulp mill, we remember the white trees with a strange fondness, despite now having an adult sensibility for how they came to be, and an understanding of how unfortunate that actually was.
A friend described to us her memory of her father (Rowan Bryan - the voice of the installation) and other workers leaving Tioxide at the end of the day – their skin and clothing also all pigmented white with oxide. The Snowman is an attempt to recreate these images that almost feel like they floated up from someone’s subconscious rather than having been simply a part of daily life for many years.
Burnie looks a very different place now. The water sparkles, the air is clean and the trees are green. The Snowman is borne of both nostalgia and an environmental horror story but equally serves as a space to reflect on how some things have changed for the better."
Sally Rees and Matt Warren have been at Burnie High School courtesy of the AIR (artists in residence) program developed and administered by arts@work, the industry development unit of Arts Tasmania, in collaboration with the Australia Council for the Arts