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Sublime  •  10 September 2021  •  Showcase

The Sublime

By Jemma O'Connell

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.‬

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