'Stigmata' is one of a series exploring the landscape as a metaphor for human relationship to environment, culture and heritage.
‘Stigmata’ depicts the spontaneous eruption of wounds in the angophoras of Bundeena and the Royal National Park, and relates them to the phenomenon of stigmata, symbolic of Christ’s suffering by proxy for the sins of mankind.
The hand outlines and skin textures superimposed on wood represent not only wounded body parts, but also the ghosts of Aboriginal culture which once thrived in this area: the lines in the texture of the skin relating to the cultural ‘songlines’ of the landscape, the bleeding wounds a profound reminder of the alienation of our (invading) culture from prior cultures and from the landscape itself.
Federation as an event symbolised the union of invading peoples within their own culture, it also by default represented a continuing self-inflicted alienation from the invaded landscape and people. The celebration of the centenary of this event seems an appropriate time to display the perpetual and symbolic wounds of invasion.
The wound is, however, also a positive symbol in Anglo-Celtic culture (cv Tristram, Parsifal (the Fisher King), King Arthur). Symptomising our carnal mortality, yet an aperture for the ingress of spiritual healing and redemption – representative of hope in the current climate of yearning for reconciliation.
"Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost part" Proverbs 20:30