Peter Adams is the genuine article. I drove a long and beautiful drive out of Hobart to the Tasman Peninsula to meet him and even had a long sighing moment as I drove past the tiny town of Koonya, where I spent a night playing music, talking philosophy and hatching forest blockade plans with new friends from the mainland when I was 21 – unknowingly with my future husband. So I’m already in the mood for nostalgia when I arrive.
Peter Adams’ home, Windgrove, is hard to describe in words or pictures – despite being 100 acres of picturesque beauty in one of the most incredible corners of the planet, I am stumbling through my words to convey the sheer enormity of the time and energy this man has given to this tiny dot on the map. Nestled on rugged cliffs and coastline, looking out over Roaring Beach, Storm Bay and beyond – it feels remote, expansive. Like you’re on the edge of the world. Peter Adams has worked for many years, re-vegetating and sculpting the landscape he’s called home for the last 22 years. It is mind-altering stuff for me, a person who has never stopped moving, putting my energy into fleeting ideas that give me fast returns. Adams has created a subtle world of his own making, working with the materials the land offers and creating sculptures that reference our place in the geological strata- all reminders of our miniscule moment here and the perspective this brings. He shares this with others through the MONA Art-Nature tours and is gracious host to many artists, who might spend a few weeks or months in the Peace Bus. He has also set up his home to accommodate workshops with other Tasmanian artists that span weekends.
Peter Adams’ preoccupation with peace and contemplation seems at odds with the art world today – full of quick tricks, hard-edged ambition and the mad scramble to the top of the heap. Photographing his work on the ground floor gallery at the Art Gallery of Western Australia a while ago, I had no idea how his work ‘fit’ but after seeing his home and outdoor studio, it all makes sense. It’s tactile and needs human hands to take stones, turn them in your hand, feel the way the wood and the stone move together after months of minute adjustments and sanding – goaded by Adams intense desire to fit these ancient materials together, perfectly, so that they are forever bonded.
I love visiting artists like Adams, people who have a pure compulsion to create at any cost, for whom there is no back up plan. The motivation that wells up from deep within to battle through works that may take him over a year to create, working full time around a stone that is hundreds of thousands of years old to create a cradle for it to lay in. Time is different here at Adams’ place. The jurassic, thoracic, they all live here and are acknowledged thoughtfully and carefully. Projects that Adams undertakes on his property are decades long and can involve the planting of thousands of trees in a particular formation, so that it may be seen as a keyhole from the air (I didn’t have funding for a helicopter ride – this time!). His Peace Garden is a sculpture garden in it’s truest form, where you can be inside the artist’s idea, this one meanders and takes the viewer on a guided tour of the past, present and future. I couldn’t help but think of another peace focussed exhibition – the Yoko Ono show at the MCA in Sydney, War is Over, if You Want It – which I visited early last year. One of my favourite works, her 1965 Cut Piece. The simple message from both Yoko Ono and Peter Adams; that destruction is easy, peace is the real challenge. And it is worth working for.
How do you reflect on the way your work goes out of this place, where it is so connected and becomes an artwork out of context, following it’s own story without you?
Like most artists, we accept that our children/our creations have to leave home. My only regret is when they are in a museum and people can’t touch them.