Stillness isn’t something that is easily found in cities; certainly not in Sydney, for me at least. Neither is humility. Cities give us an inflated sense of importance and significance. They exist only by the hands of people. They are carved, built, and manufactured to suit our needs. In effect, they reflect our own significance. We are therefore, naturally, more inclined to think the world revolves around us, because cities actually do. They're wonderful places, don’t get me wrong. This piece is not a critique of cities, but rather a reflection on how surrounding yourself in natural creation encourages humility.
What can humble someone more than standing amidst beauty not crafted by human hands? Looking up at mountains that seem to reach the sky and beyond, while they stare down at us. As Alain De Botton explores in his book The Art of Travel, sublime landscapes have this ability to gently remind us of our frailty, in a way that doesn’t cause offence. They humble us to consider that we are not grand in the same way they are. After all, they have stood for centuries, and will continue to for centuries more. Can anyone say the same for themselves?
I think back to the time when I stood looking out to the mountains of Milford Sound. I was in awe. It was the type of beauty not just seen, but felt, where you can’t digest the magnitude of what stands before you. They were as magnificently large as I was small. Imagine the stories that these mountains could tell, the worlds they have seen come and go. I stood a mere dot in comparison and yet I was blissfully overjoyed. They did not repeat back to me the importance of myself, but rather boasted their own grandness. This remains one of my truest experiences of the sublime — grand, natural landscapes. Not just for the way they looked, but for the way they made me feel — humbled.
These collages act as a personal memory bank that recollects my relationship with creation, and in a way, my experience with the sublime. I wanted to capture these memories that mesh together in my mind with exploding colours, textures, fragments of images, and fleeting feelings. These collages aim to encapsulate the awe and wonder I felt when I stood beneath these mountains.