James Darling & Lesley Forwood

James Darling - born Melbourne, Victoria, 1946

Lesley Forwood - born Tailem Bend, South Australia, 1950

…an understanding of space and the power of simple statement.”

James Darling and Lesley Forwood are conceptual artists who make social, political and environmental statements through unique site-specific installations made with mallee roots.

The mallee roots have been painstakingly stripped of all bark, soil or foreign material, until the shape of the dense, hard wood is revealed. Roots must be conserved for at least 15 years before this process can begin: high-pressure water jets, wire brushes, chisels of all sizes and air compression are just some of the processes required.

The mallee root are lignotubers of an arid-land eucalypt (E. dumosa and its many hybrids), which are sourced from the artists’ Duck Island farm in South Australia. Mallee roots are quintessentially Australian. They speak of land, culture, genealogy and evolution. They speak of tenacious survival. They confront contemporary understanding of the history, ecology and management of the Australian continent and are fundamental to the statements made by the artists. Diversity is strength. No two mallee roots are the same, each must find its place in the whole. No matter the concept of a particular installation, environmental references are inevitably present. Nature is not a background.

James and Lesley’s installations extend the minimalist tradition; simple, strong and with a magnetic power to engage the viewer.

Selected Mallee Roots Installations 2000 - 2018

2019  Living Rocks: A Fragment of the Universe, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy
2018  Living Rocks: A Fragment of the Universe, Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide, SA. Australia
2017  Walk Work 6, Private Residence, St Peter’s, SA, Australia
2015  Mindblock, Private Residence, North Adelaide, SA, Australia
2014  Sign of the Times, Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide, SA, Australia
2013  Heartland, including River to Ocean, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
2011  Country, Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Fire & Roots 3, Landmarks Gallery, National Museum of Australia, Canberra, Australia
2010  Wall Work 5 – from Kamojima to Kamojinja, Setouchi International Art Festival, Ogijima, Seto Inland Sea, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan
2008  Handle with Care, including Troubled Water – Didicoolum Drain Extension, Biennale of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
2007  Wonderful World, including Everyone Lives Downstream 2, Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide, SA, Australia
2006  Coalescence, Greenaway Art Gallery / GAG Projects, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Circle 1 – Roots across the World, Paris Summer Festival 2006, La Defense, Paris, France
2005  Triangle 2, The Esplanade, Singapore
2004  Wall Work 4, Sherman Galleries, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Everyone Lives Downstream, Greenaway Art Gallery / GAG Projects, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Thinking Beyond the Square, Wilderness School, Adelaide, SA, Australia
2003  Wall Work 3, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, Gymia, NSW, Australia
Wall Work 2, Custody and Consequence, Riddoch Art Gallery, Mount Gambier, Australia
Empathy: Beyond the Horizon, Including Malleefowl nest 12: Spring, Artspace, Sydney, NSW, Australia
2002  Planting Roots in Paris, Australian Embassy, Paris, France
Triangle 1, Centro Culturale Conde Duque, Madrid, Spain
Malleefowl nest 9: Summer, ARCO, Madrid, Spain
2001  Empathy: Beyond the Horizon, including Malleefowl nest 8 : Autumn, Taidemuseo, Pori, Finland
Fire and Roots, Including Malleefowl nest 7: Summer and Fire and Roots 2, Greenaway Art Gallery / GAG Projects, Adelaide, SA, Australia