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26 Mar 2019


We all share a unique relationship with nature, but as Sydney-based artist Chrystal Rimmer explains, the landscape is changing and the loss of habitat to suburban development touches everyone in profoundly different ways.

Solastalgia is described as a form of distress caused by environmental change which wreaks havoc on an individual’s sense of place, identity and community in much the same way as homesickness.

An abstract concept to most, it’s close to the heart of young Rimmer and forms the basis

of latest artwork, Of Loss and Finding, which will be presented at Sculpture at Scenic World in the Blue Mountains from April 12 – May 12.

Having developed a deep connection with nature as a young child growing up in Merimbula, Rimmer recalls the shock of moving to the city only to discover that her love of nature wasn’t universal.

“Being surrounded by suburban development made me realise that I yearned for nature – the friendly gums and chirpy cicadas,” she says. “But when I spoke about it, I was surprised that nature isn’t what I thought it was to everyone else.”

Rimmer began exploring the concept through abstract paintings, but the loss of her father soon afterwards deeply impacted her personally and professionally, prompting a shift in how she expressed loss and trauma in her work.

“All I wanted to do was be in nature, but I was mortified by the abundance of plastic – it was everywhere. I started picking it up and cleaning it, and then I started to think about how I could use plastic in a positive way,” she says.

Having never identified as a sculptor, Rimmer began creating abstract 3D forms from plastic with a view of seeing how it would inform her practice.

“I didn’t realise it would take me to such a different place,” she says.

Rimmer began trawling abandoned sites in her local Rockdale neighbourhood, religiously picking up plastic bags and washing, heating and moulding them to create her iconic 3D forms. Her most recent work, Of Loss and Finding, also re-purposes thousands of plastic bags donated by Scenic World in 2018.

As Rimmer explains, her art practice has evolved to become an essential communication platform that she hopes will intrigue viewers and invite them to ask more.

“I hope I can ignite something in [viewers] and prompt them to go on their own journey of exploration to understand the impacts of plastic on the environment, the state of contemporary nature and our exploitation of it,” she says.

“I hope people spend more time outside appreciating the greenery around them and finding those little instances of nature to help them realise that it is really important to conserve our natural habitat.”

Chrystal Rimmer’s artwork will be on display at Sculpture at Scenic World which will transform the ancient rainforest to an outdoor art gallery from April 12 – May 12, 2019.