Rebecca Mayo, Embracing the Familiar, 2021, Work in Progress, Weetangera Primary School 


19 June – 7 August 2021 


Embracing the Familiar by Rebecca Mayo is a community participation arts project that responds to some of the challenges that have faced the ACT region and the world since late 2019. 

With the help of the TAC community, Rebecca Mayo has developed a new iteration of a 2017 project held in Tamworth, A Cure for Plant Blindness, that invited locals to take a rubbing around the girth of a tree they love and to share the story of that tree.

For Tuggeranong Arts Centre, during a global pandemic, Mayo’s initial idea became a mail-out art project enabling it to grow into an international participation project, mapping people’s connection to the landscape around them. 

A lot happened throughout 2019 and 2020, some of which are still constant concerns. The ACT and broader regions,  have all been affected by bushfires, associated smoke haze, damaging hailstorms and the Covid-19 global pandemic, and now floods. While the long term effects of this situation are not clear, we are all still staying close to home. 

Embracing the Familiar asked the community what comfort might be found in this enforced turning inwards during lockdown. Has this slower paced, looped walking (where we set off to get out of the house, rather than to reach a physical destination) allowed us to pay a new kind of attention to our neighborhoods and what grows there? Rubbings of trees and the stories of why people love them, or how they have come to notice them anew during the extraordinary recent events is the subject of this work. 

Embracing the Familiar attracted a lot of community interest  from all around Australia, as well as New Zealand, USA and the UK. Tuggeranong Arts Centre mailed out over 150 kits to people eager to document the trees that they appreciate and find comfort in. The rubbings and stories that they  sent back have been screen printed and will all be exhibited together at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre this winter. 

About the Artist:

Rebecca Mayo is an Australian artist. She is a Lecturer in the Printmedia and Drawing Workshop at the School of Art & Design, Australian National University. Trained in printmaking, she is interested in how characteristics of print, such as repetition, reproduction and copying, might articulate and connect to the politics of thinking, being and moving through the world. She principally examines relations and interactions between human and more-than-human life, often in urban and peri-urban sites. She uses site and species specific plant dye in her practice, thereby offering audiences a physical and material connection to these plants or places. In 2019 she was the winner of the inaugural Castlemaine Art Museum Print Prize. 


Tuggeranong Arts Centre

137 Reed Street, Greenway ACT