Cloud roots or the art of reading stones

Going on an art residency is supposed to be the start of a great adventure, so I have heard, not an end in itself.

My great adventure has started a few days ago when I left Sydney to go to Swift Creeks, a one pub town in the Tambo Valley.

Look at a map of East Gippsland, and it's right there, lost in the middle of the mountains. The climate is harsh, especially this winter, as it has hardly rained. The bed of the river is wide and rocky, with a few pockets of quiet waters hiding behind bush of reeds.

Walking along the river is ankle twisting, but it's so peaceful and serene that it is worth spending some time there.

I have found some stunning stones along the water, with sky lines running through them and constellations trapped in rough, twisted shapes. I look at them and see the universe, mirror of a macrocosm inside these microcosms.

Chinese have a word for such rocks, "dream stones" also known as "cloud roots". Chinese intellectuals would collect such objects and look at them to escape the boredom of everyday life.

I look at the Australian stones and feel transported. They tell me about their journey from the mountain to the ocean where they will become sand. I read in them so many stories that my paint brushes can't keep up.

The Great Alpine Residency is a bliss, only a few weeks left before I head back to the real world.

#artresidency #stonereading #SwiftCreeks #EastGippsland

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Born in France, Sofie Dieu’s first encounter with art was through church. With a penchant for ritual and spirituality, the artist is best known for her fragile, sombre, and sometimes violent ink paintings and textile works.


Poetic and humanist, her practice draws on her journeys to China and Australia. She explores how identity and memory fluctuate according to their immediate environment. Landscapes, people, secrecy, healing, and the dichotomy between light and darkness are some of her recurring themes.


Multi-art prizes and award finalist, her work was included in the Sydney North Art Prize, Waterhouse Natural Science prize and the Contemporary Art Award amongst others. In 2016, she worked on the Camperdown Cemetery installation for Sydney Biennale. In 2017, her work will be shown during Vivid and Mental Health Month in Sydney.