The Other Island
The history of Australian animals inhabiting the United Kingdom is a curious and elusive one that to date, has largely been left untold. These populations, often unknown to people outside of the United Kingdom —and even many of those within it— serve as signifiers of former power structures, a global legacy of displacement and its associated unease. Few Australian animals have as a marked history throughout the British Isles than that of the wallaby.
Once ranging from the Peak District, Channel Isles, English Midlands, and Loch Lomond, the United Kingdom was formerly home to numerous wallaby colonies. Many escapees of zoos, wildlife parks and private collections, others freed during World War I and World War II, literature of these wild wallaby colonies and how they came to being is far and few between. The fate of such colonies, often plagued with health issues as a result of inbreeding, is typically unfavourable; most of which have since perished during colder than usual winters, or others butchered during World War I and World War II to feed British troops. There is one place however, the Isle of Man, where between the woods and moors a small wild population of wallabies has inexplicably steadily grown over the years.
Beyond the initial curiosity of Australian animals inhabiting a British landscape, the film — shot in 16mm — speaks of an improbable transposition and the cultural, social and political dimension embedded in such colonies, drawing on the manner in which the natural world has been ordered, displayed, organised, and ultimately produced.
The Other Island is an ongoing research project that has focused on documenting and researching Australian animals populations that inhabit places abroad, with a particular focus on early photochemical technology and the wallaby colony that inhabits the Isle of Man.