Another year and here we are back on Cockatoo Island to begin the annual inspection. I have been unable to locate Ted Wilson and will have to escalate the situation if the impass persists. A pleasure to see John and the other staff we have come to rely on to complete our work.
Yesterday Laura and her team reported that some of the staff were concerned that the smells noticed in the vicinity of the cavernous areas where we set rat poison several years ago were an indication that these pests have returned. This has made the situation with Ted Wilson whereby we are prevented from inspecting these areas untenable. I spoke with John who tried to reach Ted and found him on the ferry headed home. It appears that Ted has become increasingly erratic and spends much of his time in the ‘cave’, even sleeping there. The staff consensus was to forcibly remove the lock and enter in order to conduct the inspection, but nothing had prepared us for the experience that ensued.
Even as I write about this tonight I find myself immersed in the mysteries of this cave, reliving the experience as if I were still there. The sweet smell of beeswax mixes with the odour of fertile, humid soil. My eyes resist the dimness of the cave and I rub my face. I look around in this uneasy environment and see a workspace, crammed with tools and a section of soil in the back. It looks like an excavation. The walkway I am on leads me past buckets, tubs and tools, piles of slabs of beeswax and a makeshift desk full of uncleaned, earthy artefacts. I find myself standing in front of a honeycombed section of soil, at eye-level with cavities and tunnels that branch deep into this earthen wall. The hollows compose a larger form, something like a mould of a human female figure. Am I the only one who is seeing this? What is going on here?
I’ve been very busy with assignments but managed to get back to Ted’s cave this weekend. Since the lock was broken I can basically get in any time I want, though I don’t want to attract too much attention or they may lock it again. I also don’t want other people going inside and removing objects or rearranging things before I’ve had a chance to explore. It’s hard to know what could be in the mind of the person who made all this stuff. They feel like religious objects of veneration or the means to a ritual, but it is so foreign that it’s hard to image let alone visualize what is going on.
As I wander about I often find myself in a maze of twisty little passages, all of them different, as if I were in a colossal cave.
I have decided to put a lock on the entrance to the cave. The staff and rangers clearly have no interest in it and I am worried that someone else will get it. Ted Wilson seems to have had a lock on it for a year and possibly two without any one noticing, so I should be OK. It is a shame that I can only come on the weekends.
Today I took a few pictures of some of the objects inside. I am contemplating cataloguing them.
I have decided to start tagging some of the artefacts in order to facilitate cataloguing. The whole process is not very systematic, but it is one of discovery.
I have also decided to ask the staff if I can move some of the more interesting artefacts to another location for study. The old Officers’ Barracks/Superintendent’s house would be an excellent location if they will let me use it.
It’s fascinating how many of these wax objects resemble coral.
More tagging again this weekend. I also moved additional artefacts to Building 2, in which space has been graciously made available for my use, and have started setting up some equipment to permit closer inspection. But my primary focus is still the cave.
A quick trip this weekend without accomplishing much. I have to go away for a couple of weeks and so will not be able to visit again for awhile.
Had a chance to visit the Tallong Apple Day yesterday. It’s refreshing to step back in time to visit a Southern Highlands country fair and eat too much of the wonderful apple pies on offer. The local fire brigade put on quite a show. And not a pest in sight!!
I have been thinking a great deal about some of the more personal items I have found among Ted’s artefacts. I feel I should respect his privacy, but I have such as strong need to get to the heart of what drove him to create all these mysterious objects. I have resolved to permit myself access to this material for the purposes of investigation, but will do my best to guard against public exposure. I wish I could speak with Ted about these things, but perhaps I can find someone who will shed more light on the events that are behind this creative outpouring.
I have spent significant time traveling over the last few weeks and have been too involved in other matters to post. But during this time I thought a great deal about the artefacts in the ‘cave’ and I have become more determined to uncover their hidden meaning. So, I have come to the conclusion that I need to put more focus on the crude lab I started in Building 2. As a result, I set about to accumulate some more equipment during my travels and so far have acquired the following items:
- Magnifying Lamp
- Red Heat-lamps
- Glass Vitrines
- Fabric for Underlays (I came across some red silk to which I am uneasily drawn.)
I hope to install these items on site as soon as possible.
There are a number of people milling around on Cockatoo lately; it looks like some sort of art exhibition. I hope they stay out of my way so that I may continue my investigations. In any event I must cover the entrance to the cave to keep out the curious.