project image
Shutterbug: Conan Fitzpatrick

first performed on April 12, 2019
Te Henga, Waitakere, Whanganui East, New Zealand
performed once in 2019


New Zealand


“A Remedy for Hopelessness” involved a ritual collecting of Gorse Bushes—Gorse: Ulex europaeus of the Fabaceae (pea) family from land at Te Henga—over several continuous hours of the day. The performance references the healing nature of the plant, the Gorse state of being, meshing with one’s own feelings of despair in the face of human failure, unrelenting capitalism, climate change, and extinction; working through contemporary intersections of art, caretaking, landscape and ecology. The work engages visual and conceptual narratives that stretch between the colonially rampant weed and the golden-yellow flowering bush known as a Bach Flower Remedy for Hopelessness.

The Gorse collection was undertaken by myself and a gorse cutting assistant to whom I gave instruction on the procedure and handling of the Gorse; I selected each bush and watched over the Gorse gutter wearing protective gear as he cut the chosen bushes, one at a time, passing them directly into my hands, slowly and with a serious disposition, each deep prick to my skin a reminder, reflecting with gravitas on our connection to Pakeha settlers who introduced Gorse to New Zealand, after which time it fast became a notoriously wide spread and noxious weed. The unsung healing properties of Gorse were at the centre of my respectful engagement and handling of the plant throughout the process. After each bush was cut, I then carried it by hand offsite and returned for the cutting of the next bush. I consider these acts a new ritual in my practice, although many have removed Gorse bushes from the land before me, with different intent and manner.

This inaugural Gorse collection took place privately. It was documented through drone footage and photography. The drone footage was edited into a short silent film, which has been screened for public audiences.

Gorse has tenacious roots, and like other legumes, it catalyses nitrogen from the upper atmosphere. It has a special ability to bring fertility and vitality to otherwise isolated and barren soils, flourishing resilient in places where other vegetation cannot. It is these penetrating and fierce qualities of Gorse that have personally driven me to work with it in my performance as part of a new body of work. The essence of Gorse is intrinsically connected with the gathering of the Gorse bushes. By working with Gorse at a physical level, I embody a poetic contemplation of its medicinal, magical, and permacultural properties and values, contemplating its relationship to wellbeing through creative practice.