Image Credit: Kathy Holowko, The Unsung Hero, 2019. Mild steel, wood, paint. 1300 x 1030 x 850 mm. Image credit: J. Forsyth
A plinth is an historical site for the revered, those we are told to remember and admire, the coloniser and the war hero. Meanwhile the earthworm is ignored. Silently in darkness it goes about its business, doing the important and under-rated work of creating healthy soil.
The earthworm is one of the hardest working and most unrecognised members of our biotic community. It is time to honour this unsung hero. Earthworms can, after all eat half their body weight each day, turning decaying matter into nutrients for plants. Their burrows bring water and air deep into the ground providing the right conditions for root growth. Holowko has placed the earthworm on the plinth and rendered it prodigious in recognition of the tireless transfer of energy undertaken by these humble creatures.
This playful juxtaposition between the cultural structure of this historical plinth and the placement of the humble earthworm—raised up on a pedestal and represented on a momentous scale—is humorous and yet deeply meaningful. Holowko’s practice focuses on narratives that explore our relationship to ecological cycles. Through her artwork she has explored many facets of natural systems and human relationships to other life forms.
Holowko’s artwork prompts her audience to remember that we are all part of the earth’s cycles and systems—especially in urban spaces—so that we are more conscious of our actions and their impact. Holowko reminds viewers to make decisions and take actions that contribute to a sustainable future.
The Unsung Hero by Kathy Holowko is presented as part of the Edinburgh Gardens Plinth from Program, from 3 September 2019 - Sunday 10 July 2022, and was officially launched on 20 October 2019. Read the launch event speech (PDF) by Dr Tessa Laird, Lecturer in Critical and Theoretical Studies, Victorian College of the Arts.