Salt Lake Spirits

Not long ago I took a slow walk into the wide white distance, towards a floating horizon of iron red ranges suspended above the brilliant surface of a salt lake. As I walked time and place merged into a dreaming in which the past, present and future collapsed within an instant and all people from that place, alive and dead, moved in fluid groups that I could not discern, talking to each other in voices I could not hear. Soft winds blew before the dawn drawing me along paths of salt-fringed clay. Now I am far from the shores of this salt lake, the past is now and the forever future bends in broad swathes between the bands of crystals and red rocky islands.

Lake Ballard, Western Australia

Lake Ballard, Western Australia

Standing still I focus on this moment and I join the company of these salt lake spirits. They are there in the periphery of my senses. I am aware of living mass and form, movement and sound but when I turn towards them I see inert statues braced in stiff poses standing as silent sentinels guarding a spirit world.

Lake Ballard, Western Australia

Lake Ballard, Western Australia

The further I walk the softer the going. With each tentative step I carefully place each foot, judging the give and take in the brittle surface and anticipating how far my foot will sink. Beneath the salt is mud. Each time I lift a foot my boot carries another layer of mud. Every now and then I stop to scrape some off.

I am moving so slowly now that, as I pick my way across the vast flatness, it seems to me that time has stopped. I walk from sentinel to sentinel seemingly moving from the now to a future time. As I reach the next statue, standing at the intersections of a web of pathways, time shifts again and another shimmering statue beckons farther out towards that floating horizon.

When I reach each one I naturally gravitate into an orbit, watching the fall of light, changing textures and the warp of line and shadow as I revolve, a satellite to each salt lake spirit. These ‘inner beings’ stand watch under blue skies upon a mesmerising vastness of white. They are the keepers of this country and all of its stories. Perhaps they will tell me some of them and I hope I will remember.

I return across soft clay where salt crystals tinge the edge of the mud and grow, like mushrooms, in the depressions of the boot prints of the travelers who have gone before me. Along the way I walk around a peculiar conical hill which rises abruptly out of the dry lake bed with trees sprouting at strange angles out of its sides. Boulders, large and small, that have broken away and rolled downhill now litter the ground around the circular base of the hill.

Lake Ballard, WA

Lake Ballard, Western Australia

Journey to a world of ‘Inner Beings’ flung far and wide across the white salt of Lake Ballard in Western Australia. Read more about ‘Inside Australia’ and Anthony Gormley’s sculptures here.

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