Sing comprises clusters of handwoven pendant nests juxtaposed with pre-recorded bird songs, suspended from a tree canopy. It is an immersive and poetic work reflective of delicate and intricate natural connections found in remaining ‘wild’ environments. Debbie Symons created Sing in response to her 2018 Labverde residency in Manaus, State of Amazonia, Brazil. During the residency, Symons was captivated by the nests of the Yellow-rumped Cacique bird. Pendant in shape and made from pliable materials such as grasses and plant fibres, this nest form is common for many tropical bird species predominantly found in the planet’s equatorial regions. During the last 30 years, many of these regions have witnessed an explosion of deforestation. They are often replaced with rows of oil palm trees, a plant cultivated as an industrial, agricultural crop that today accounts for 10% of permanent global cropland. Sing’s nests are woven from the fronds of the oil palm, a deliberate act to draw attention to the rapid loss of biodiversity so crucial for the continuation of native species.
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Debbie Symons’ practice is multi-disciplinary. Her work addresses a range of themes, including humanity’s complicated relationship with the natural environment, the dynamics of the global political economy and the effects of consumer culture. Symons collaborates with scientific organisations to inform her work, such as the IUCN Red List. In 2018, Symons attended the prestigious LABverde residency in Manaus, Brazil and in 2019, Symons was awarded the Copyright Agency’s CREATE grant to create Sing.
Born in Melbourne, her formative training was at Victoria College Prahran (VCA) in the fields of painting and printmaking. Symons completed her PhD, Anthropocentrism, Endangered Species, and the Environmental Dilemma, at Monash University in 2014. She is an Associate in RMIT’s School of Art, College of Design and Social Context and is currently undertaking an artist residency at Bayside Artist Studio at Billilla Historic Mansion. Symons’ works have been shown internationally and nationally: International Urban Screens Association, Galerie Prodromus – Paris, The Streaming Museum – New York, ZAZ10TS – Times Square in New York City, Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, Bayside Gallery RMIT Gallery, [MARS] Gallery, Linden New Art, South Australian Museum, Albury Digital Outdoor Gallery, Craft Victoria, Trocadero Art Space, Shifted Gallery, c3 Contemporary Art Space, Carlton Connect Studio, Monash University Faculty Gallery, Latrobe Regional Gallery, Incinerator Gallery, RMIT Project Space, and The Substation. In 2015, she travelled to Paris as part of the Australian representation in ARTCOP21.