Conversations with the Forest — A living, breathing and growing artwork

“A tree can only be as strong as the forest that surrounds it” (Peter Wohlleben)

                Conversations with the Forest - Surfers Paradise invites us to help grow a micro-forest in Surfers Paradise on Kombumerri land. Using plant species native to the region, the forest will become a ‘paradise’ people can enjoy in Surfers. A soundscape created for the forest will filter through speakers –  tones and sounds similar to the electric pulse language of the trees. The work asks us to think about how we regard and communicate with forests and trees, and to consider a future where plants are our equals.

‘Survival increases when saplings are embedded within the human social network. A tree planted by it’s human neighbors will live longer than one placed by an anonymous contractor. A street tree that is granted personhood and membership, one that is noticed, loved and given identity and history, lives longer than a municipal object arriving with no context and living with no collaborators’ (David George Haskell)  

We will collaborate with the ferns, the fungi and the trees we will build a network to support the forest. Forest Agents are invited to work with the artistic team to help grow the forest. You can be a Forest Agent on the ground or in the digital realm. 

‘Not being open to consider the very nature of our reasoning and assumptions regarding the relationship between brains and memories leaves us no space to seek other possibilities’ (Monica Gagliano) 

Whats on in October

Sunday 10 October 4pm | Listening to place. Listening to Time
Join artist Merinda Davies and Indigenous Ranger Justine Dillon on a walk through Surfers Paradise, Kombumerri Country where you will experience reflections and future imaginings of place through sensory interactions, seed collecting, conversation and listening practices.

We will visit some of the few remnant rainforest trees left. Using microphones and devices we will listen to the trees and experience the city soundscape from other beings' perspectives, along the way learning about native plants on the streetscapes and imagining what Surfers Paradise will smell, sound, look and feel like in 100 years time.

Saturday 16 October & Thursday 21 October | Making paper from plants
Using weeds, plant matter, fern spores and recycled paper join artist Merinda Davies to learn how to remake paper. After the workshop you can take the paper home and/or contribute it to the forest where you will be invited to use some of the paper to write a love letter to the forest that will be delivered to the trees on a future date via the ferns, fungi and microbes.

Friday 29 October 5:30pm | Native Bee Keeping
Join Native Bee Keeper, Kombumerri Traditional Owner Max Dillon and Anangnu Man, Wildlife Educator Ben Brown to learn about the native bees that will help support the forest. And what plants you can put in your backyard or balcony to invite local native bees to make a home.


Merinda Davies - Artist

Justine Dillon - Indigenous Ranger & Kombumerri Traditional Owner

Monica Gagliano - Researcher - plant bioacoustics and cognition

‘It is through the unlearning that we can take those first steps away from objectifying plants and realise that recognising their subjectivity and inherent worth and dignity does not diminish our own but rather enriches it.’ (Monica Gagliano)