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Treegazing

How Art and Meditation Connect Peripatetic Practices as a Form of Subtle Activism

Abstract

Treegazing was a public walking event held in the Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne as part of Melbourne Design Week 2020 inviting the public to lift their gaze, be mindful whilst acknowledging the garden’s aesthetic design and history. This walk created a temporary community of strangers who co-experienced the majestic arboreal canopies of trees and plants, reducing ‘plant blindness’ (Schussler & Wandersee, 1998).
Acknowledging the importance of ‘what stories are told’ and ‘making-kin’ (Haraway, 2016), this article explores collaborative visions between yoga and meditation practitioner Amanda Hawkey and artist Heather Hesterman. Investigating the dualities of silence/sound, open/enclosed, empty/busy and built/green spaces as a series of experiences. The act of mindful walking aims to connect the body to green spaces; to provide an embodied experience of nature.  How might fundamental practices, as humans walking individually and together in public space be potential acts of transformation, of mindfulness, and environmental awareness - even subtle activism?
We argue that encouraging an engagement with nature via haptic and ocular modes of art practice and meditation may facilitate a deeper engagement with and/or increased appreciation for flora. Treegazing implicates the walkers to become part of a connective- fluidity that enacts the space not within as participants, witness nor viewers but offers a shared collective experience of both mobility and stillness with the landscape, a subtle activism that looks up and treads lightly to ‘conspire – with nature.’

Published:
Pages:231 to 244
Section: Portfolio
How to Cite
Hesterman, H. and Hawkey, A. (2020) “Treegazing”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(4), pp. 231-244. doi: https://doi.org/10.32891/jps.v5i4.1423.

Author Biographies

Heather Hesterman is a PhD candidate with the University of Tasmania combining art, plants and ecological practices. She created an interactive space, GreenLAB for the Shepparton Art Museum, included in Climarte’s Festival 2019 and is involved with the Sunbury Cultural Commissions Project, for CAST Public Art Program RMIT. Recent exhibitions include Garden, enacting part of Charles Sturt’s journey with a mobile English garden at Counihan Gallery, Melbourne and The Overwintering Project curated by Kate Gorringe-Smith at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery in 2021 and # isolovebotanics spreading digital vegetal-love during covid lockdown. Heather is an educator/researcher based in Melbourne, (Naarm) and teaches casually within the School of Art at RMIT University.

Melbourne Insight Meditation, Amayoga
Australia Australia

Amanda Hawkey is a trained Social Worker and holds a BA in Anthropology.  She is a trained Yoga teacher and is interested in a range of movement modalities.

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