Heimur recently collaborated with Pat Casten for a series of exclusive frames for her exhibition, Acclimatise, held at No Vacancy cafe and gallery.
Acclimatise is a 13-picture series that explores Casten’s photographs taken in Nepal, Cambodia and Victoria from 2014-2017. Here, Pat discusses her work and draws on her cathartic experience in the Himalayan mountains in Nepal. The feeling of empowerment and acceptance of the non permanency nature of life is a recurring theme in the photos.
As their artist statement depicts, “Acclimatisation is, in its own way, Casten’s encapsulation of this process in her own life. Relationships fray. Contexts change. Friendships wear. But nevertheless, we persist. This series is a story of Casten’s adaptation to life’s new layers, one step at a time”.
Nepal was a significant time of my life. It was 2017 and I was at that stage where I was at a job I didn’t care about, I was in a relationship where it was like “I’m not in love with you”, I just needed to go away. So I did a 4 month trip, saved all my pennies and quit my job.
While I was on that trek, the first few days I was like “What am I doing, this is so hard”. Right before I left for the trek, I found out my mum had a stroke and I was losing reception. So I was like, “Do I not go?” but I was looking forward to it for so long. I felt like I needed to do it. I needed to prove to myself that I’m capable of accomplishing great things on my own. Luckily right before I left, I got a message from my cousin and he’s a doctor and he translated everything the doctors were saying. He said she’s a low risk patient and she’s going to make a full recovery. So I was like “Alright, I’ll go”. I was in a weird, mental space while I was there. I was taking video logs of myself and I just watched it the other day and I’m just so sad in them. I’m like “This is so hard, I miss my mum, everything’s so difficult”. The hike gets harder, then it gets so physically hard, I’m looking at my feet like “Lift your left foot, now lift your right foot”. You’re doing that for hours and it’s so physically demanding and you can’t breathe because of the altitude.
As soon as I passed the hardest day, you can see in my video logs how much happier I’ve become and I’m just so proud of myself. By the end on the final day, I’m like “I feel beautiful, I’m so excited on what’s to come” and you can see such a physical and mental change. That mental change lasted for months after that. You see your body change and recover so quickly. You never put your body through that much strain, so it’s really interesting to see how quick your body repairs. It was really insightful having the video logs because you can see how quickly your mind and thought processes repair too.
Cambodia was a trip from 2014. I was there with my best friend, it’s that picture with the smoke, and it was a place we were volunteering. This was the second time returning here. Originally, in 2011, my high school offered Cambodia as an alternative to schoolies. Since most of my highschool friends came from a strict, catholic background, we weren’t into the idea of schoolies at all, and we ended up having a super enriching time in Cambodia. My school was founded by the La Sallian brothers who opened a number of other schools around the world. They founded this school in Cambodia in this tiny village outside Phnom Penh and it was the first time these kids ever had a school. We didn’t know if we’d be going during the construction or help build it. Luckily, we came right when it was made and we could meet all the kids and become really close. It was just really sad learning all of their life experiences — these kids were under 10 and had been through more trauma than anyone should ever deal with in a lifetime. Their living and family situations were really tough and it gave me a lot of perspective. That’s the corrupt thing about volunteering though - we’re gaining more than we could ever give.
The other pieces in the series are representative of friendships which have changed, relationships that have now ended, and people I used to know.
Most of them are from camping trips or road trips. I was going through a lot of portraits and the ones that ended up working were the ones where you can't see people’s faces. I didn’t want to put a face to that name. I liked it in its vagueness.
Nathan, Luke and I are old friends. I have watched Heimur grow since it began, and have always been in awe of their hard work, determination and innovation. I hoped that starting this project would be an empowering way to explore, and combine each others’ strengths and create something with a mutual vision.
They curated the final images, created the frames, helped me find a place to exhibit my work, assisted with the exhibition install, and pushed me to think about my work in a critical manner. We communicated regularly through this process, and they ensured to consider my creative input with all decisions. Working with Heimur was enriching. They were supportive, professional, and easy to work with. Once I saw my images printed and framed, it was emotional, the images came to life
I’m currently working on a project about people from the suburbs I grew up in, in South-East Melbourne. A lot of us from there share a similar experience of wanting to follow our creative pursuits, but not having the community, resources or financial backing to do so — and when trying to push through these barriers, you suddenly find yourself in an all-white rich community. I’m exploring the feelings of displacement and feeling so different from what’s around you.
Frames and prints available here or contact us for more enquiries
Special thanks to No Vacancy Cafe & Gallery https://www.no-vacancy.com.au/
Photos of Pat, the exhibition and frames by Luke Van Aurich
Words by Claire Le