We all leave our mark on this earth to a greater or lesser degree. Some footprints are so large it seems hard to know how we can fit our smaller ones into the spaces they made. Others are small prints, erased too quickly by time and sand.

I’m thinking of these things today as I write and look at some of the photos I’ve taken in the centre of Australia. I’m here at Curtain Springs, located on the road to Uluru and am struck by the incredible red sand which briefly holds the imprint of my footsteps, a nocturnal snake perhaps and those of the vehicles used by the cattle station.

As I stare at these tracks in the sand I’m reminded of our human mortality, how short our lives are when compared to this ancient landscape. I’m thinking about my dear friend who has just had news of her daughter in-laws sudden death, and I’m thinking of my ancestors and how death eventually comes to all of us. Our footprints blown away in the wind overnight. 

Our lives are all too often measured by what we leave behind, our material footprints. As part of my residency I am using what I find lying around, the things discarded on a daily basis like cardboard boxes and those which end up in the “supermarket” of hardware redundancies; old car bodies, fridges, rolls of wire and rusting cogs. We’ve just collected a small container of these to use in rusting and cyanotype experiments.

My question as an artist is – how do I honour these footprints both large and small? I have made an altar of a discarded soft drink box, a cardboard book of hand stitched paper and grass to remind me of this landscape and my small footprint upon it.

Tyre track.jpg
Heather Matthew