It's in your nature
In 2013, I was working as an artist in residence on Minjerribah, North Stradbroke Island for the Lines in the Sand festival. The brief was to produce art works of an ephemeral nature to be installed at various sites on the Pt Lookout Headland during the week, artists were encouraged to respond to the environment. I have been a visitor to the island since 1987 and when there the gorge walk is a daily essential. It's a spectacular setting for observing nature, so I thought about building a place where you could be tucked up in nature - observe without being observed. I was pretty sure I could build some sort of structure out of pandanus leaves that had been shed. I hoped it could be a contemplation cave, a place where you could realise that humans are a part of nature.
Contemplation is the act of looking thoughtfully at something. So this Contemplation Cave could be a place for deep reflective thought. By stepping off the well-trodden path of your busy life, you can enter a small space where you can reflect on your own nature within the surrounds of nature. You can close your eyes and listen to the wind rustle through the leaves of the pandanus. You can tune into your senses.In the act of noticing you may discover it is not in your nature to be so busy or that it is in your nature to be more environmentally aware.
The low entryway means that you need to bow your head to enter. In Eastern cultures this acts as a reminder to be humble and to be grateful for your lot in life. It also reminds us of a child's excitement when building a cubby house and having to crawl through a hidden entrance. Emma Marris, an American nature advocate reckons that all the environmentalists, ecologists and park rangers she's met built forts or cubbies when they were kids. It is this direct contact with nature - touching, building, picking flowers or collecting rocks that causes people to care about nature. Marris says "we have to do, which is that we have to let children touch nature, because that which is untouched is unloved".
It's not just about the epic scenery of the gorge walk there are small nature places all around us from the back yard to the local park or brook. Brian Cox tells us that humans are created from the same building blocks as all living and non-living things, so it's in your nature to spend time outdoors