Tender Places

The Claypans Diaries, Part 1 and 2



tender places, Ilparpa Claypans, walking methodologies, postcards, shadow places, settler privilege, ecological crisis, cyanotypes, art as social practice, Deborah Bird Rose


Tender Places is a creative research project engaging the settler body in reflexive dialogue with theory in and through place, to explore moral responsibilities of settler descended peoples in the time of ecological breakdown. The entanglement of severance and extraction with ecological and social violence poses a provocation to settler descended peoples. Working with the Ilparpa Claypans, a site of personal significance on the outskirts of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, my creative research uses Deborah Bird Rose’s provocation of “Taking Notice,” sensual language and presencing the co-existence of love and violence in order to mobilise the body in the act of physical translation of ideas with/in place through walking, writing and digital photography. The research acknowledges and activates trans-local relationships through the creation and sending of postcards that document, translate and disseminate field notes to and through an international network of artist peers. The postcard is presented as a queering material medium; an appropriated artefact of outsider privilege, a public/ private artwork for an audience of one, and a material item that crosses political and geographical borders to link places and people through space and time. My paper locates this practice of (trans)local place-based inquiry into ecological crisis within broader decolonising, feminist and creative inquiries into the Anthropocene. Postcards and other creative research artefacts will be shared to demonstrate the methodology in action, and I reflect on the decolonising potential of reflexive and embodied engagement with place in relation to settler identity.

Author Biography

Kelly Lee Hickey, Institute for Sustainable and Liveable Cities, Victoria University and Centre for Creative Futures, Charles Darwin University

Kelly Lee Hickey builds connections between people and places through creative and pedagogical place based practice. A multi-award winning artist and performer, she completed her PhD at Victoria University in 2022 and is the inaugural Creative Researcher in Residence at the Centre for Creative Futures at Charles Darwin University.

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