Latest news from seed.art.lab.
Its nearly Easter and 2014 is moving along!
Once again a warm welcome to all NEW and seasoned subscribers. The main reason for writing today is to tell you about my OPEN STUDIO EVENT this weekend APRIL 12 + 13 at Seed.Art.Lab Studio in Chermside, Brisbane and the exciting residency coming up at PLantbank in NSW in a few weeks time.
Click here to skip over to the website home page for all the details on this event to save reading my E-news if you wish.
The story continues...
For those who peruse my newsletter I do appreciate you could be getting on with many other things right now. It's immensely encouraging to find as many read this as do... certainly direct messages from readers following Studio News going out is confirming!
This package arrived from across the Tasman recently. Sender was artist Carol Bobb, a Canadian living in NZ met on a 1992 Aboriginal Rock Art Tour of NSW ... I was along as cook and she accompanying elderly New Yorker Margaret who's married life with an eminent scholar of Indigenous Rock Art in North America was indeed fascinating. Conversations about art had on that extraordinary trip I still remember. We lost touch but a few years ago Carol reconnected, and in her characteristically artful way has sent notes discussing themes and offering encouragement often prompted by the E-newsletter. Thank you Carol... this was SUCH a heart-warming surprise!
Thoughtfulness I was pondering this morning is truly an art... gestures offered that appear in many forms and guises, often unseen or unrecognised!
The intentional practice of thoughtfulness ... whether its brought to on'e work, professional undertakings or daily grind, to creative pursuits or interactions in the world ... one should never overlook or underestimate its profound importance I reflected.
The other day I opened my older computer and found volumes of emails not yet deleted. I came across past emails of Pam, close friend of a wonderful lifelong friend in Melbourne. She'd written each time the E-news went out. We'd met a few times... but she lived in my imagination through our mutual friend's tales of her beautiful small cottage in the Dandenongs, her wonderful garden and the paintings she did when not nursing for a living. Pam had died quite suddenly last year so it was intensely moving to think someone I'd not known so well had given time to reading each newsletter ... offered appreciation for the dedication to seeds, for taking Art into broader contexts of engagement with the audacity to make a fuss of things that mattered. We'd laughed about the downsides of promo and business that come with the art 'career' but she was firm in her belief that it must be done and to keep making a fuss!
Remarkable generosity of spirit stays with us when given so freely. Many have likewise offered constructive commentary and support for which I am so grateful. It carries significant meaning, especially when challenged and needing to believe continuing is worthwhile, like last week when my bank account was growling at the drought conditions. I sometimes find the project not unlike how a farmer might feel when he plants his crop without knowing what the yield might be, the price at market and the threats whilst bringing it to harvest. The work must continue without obsessing over market value and fortune... in good faith it must continue or at some point one opts out.
On the weekend a lovely friend visited. She'd apparently been talking about a certain painting with her husband for some time. Payment in instalments was arranged, which to my brain happily reads "salary". It frees up the neural pathways to work without distraction, and was unexpected on the weekend ... yet hugely uplifting!
The power of thoughtfulness and the endless ways we may offer it to the world really interests me. I found something poignant on this theme today, penned by Anne Frank: 'How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.'
So whats coming up?
For starters an OPEN STUDIO event this coming weekend at SEED.ART.LAB, my home based studio at 48 Meemar St, Chermside on Brisbane's Northside.
I've been handing out these postcards and posting online. Read all the important details at the website about this April 12 & 13 event ... or read more below on this bulletin!
The purpose of the event is four-fold... to showcase new work, share Seed.Art.Lab activities, offer artworks and cards available for purchase ... and for those interested in relaxing over refreshments... partake in a fund-raising Afternoon Tea available both afternoons next weekend between the hours of Midday and 5pm.
Image: Peppermint iced tea one hot Brisbane afternoon (waterlouge app)
Currently I am generating funds for several aspects of my project... and a most exciting venture I am delighted to announce commencing April 28th is a 2 week residency at PLANTBANK, the newly opened Seed Science facility at the Australian Botanic Garden, South West of Sydney at Mt Annan.
Yes indeed Anne Frank. My project has led me to so many who've taken those words to heart. News Media tells tales of thoughtfulness lost, buried or abandoned. We're human, it happens, things fail and fall apart. However... this project continues to discover very different tales.
For every complex and critical theme now impacting the planet's Seed heritage, its biodiverse eco-systems and food systems, story after story after story of people, projects and goals that chip away at present circumstances in the effort to remake the world abound.
No longer time to "leave it to someone else" many people no longer leave it to someone else. It's like waking up and seeing what Anne Frank saw.... that world of possibilities... in the midst of great ruin and despair. She could see that... it's our job to see that too... if not for us... for our children and the future they will inherit.
We humans can "do" shallow quite easily. Its a safety mechanism ... we all duck and hide when something seems too hard or not our problem. Sometimes it's what we absolutely have to do to really focus on tackling specific problems ... storing energy by not taking all on or losing energy feeling we should.
I understand the need for making these kinds of choices... I'm not concerned when my priorities aren't shared ... I'm thrilled when meaning is found in something I care for... but the thing I think most deeply about is what we collectively might rally together to achieve in respect of the changes needed in how we live with our delicate eco-systems that, without any disagreement keep giving, providing the air we breathe, clean water, rich soil and possibility for life on this globe if it possibly can that is. Together, all our efforts can add up and make remarkable things possible when we determine how to finesse our best goals and efforts towards crucial and equitable outcomes.
Yesterday our garden became host to three native bee-hives. We are now bee-fostering for native bee-breeder Tony who came with a jar of honey and 3 hives of stingless bees just on dark. Friend Corrine connected the dots... she's the 'go-bee-tween'. It made my day ... such a simple gesture... part of an extensive project Tony is participating in. He will come twice a year and all we need do is watch that they have shade and access to airflow and ask him if questions arise. Small steps indeed!
The Australian PlantBank is a science and research facility of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust and is located at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. It houses the Trust's seedbank and research laboratories that specialise in horticultural research and conservation of Australian native plant species, particularly those from New South Wales.
Image: found at PLANTBANK Website
Click on this image above to go to an article at Garden Drum written by gardener and journalist Catherine Stewart who took this along with other images on a visit to Plantbank.
The image at the top of this bulletin was taken whilst on Residency at the KEW Millennium Seedbank in West Sussex, UK in October 2011. One of 100's of species I took time to photograph over the 3 week residency, I was driven by the stark realisation of how vast the seed collections were and to attempt to draw what was accessible would have taken months. Over two years later I am still processing material from that residency from time to time ... pouring over images, remembering lines of investigation.
Aristolochia albida, the species in this photograph is listed as a useful plant from West Tropical Africa and I chose it last week to put on my new business cards, a postcard and as a framed print for a local photography show.
By local I refer to neighbourhood cafe Cafe Shutter & Brew, run by Architectural Photographer Campbell Ship with Laura, wife and business partner who's talents star in the kitchen. Accustomed to using photography to record inspiration for the studio or document artwork I've never considered showing my shots. With Seed Morphologist Wolfgang Stuppy setting the bar so high for seed photography I've been happy to use my images on blogs and leave it at that.
Choosing two images to show on the cafe's dedicated Photographic Gallery Wall alongside other's images mean trawling my photo archive from the last 4 years and thinking a little more seriously about my approach. Cam also offers classes, camera advice and monthly customer outings ... whilst Laura makes an art form of connecting with the cafe's community! Whats not to like?
Brushing up on my photographic skills will serve me well for the Plantbank Residency. 2 weeks will go very quickly, and even with the possibility off returning later on I will need to be armed with camera and notebook and focusing on documenting as much as possible. A particular area of interested is:
At the website on this project I noted this excerpt:
"Australian rainforests cover only 0.3% of the land and yet contain more than 50% of the plant biodiversity of our nation. Three significant World Heritage listed areas that occur on the east coast of Australia have large rainforest components. These are the Wet Tropics, the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia and the Tasmanian Wilderness. The â€˜Gondwana Rainforestsâ€™ of Australia World Heritage Area, in north-east NSW and southern Queensland, is described as a â€˜discontinuous chain of islands in a sea of fire prone eucalypt and agricultural landsâ€™. It contains more than 200 species of rare and threatened plants and animals."
Having recently conducted a mini-residency at Springbrook National Park, part of the Gwondana Rainforests and also a month in the Wet-tropics on residency in 2012 I'm keen to follow up on the Rainforest Seed Project at Plantbank which is part of the global partnership with Kew's Millennium Seedbank Program:
"The Australian PlantBank has relationships with most universities in the Sydney area. We also have a strategic relationship with the Australian Seed Bank Partnership, an Australian network of native seed conservation seed banking and research. In addition we have a strong relationship with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew's (UK) Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) which has a global partnership of 80 entities. The MSB is also the place where the Australian PlantBank backs up its collections with half of all our seed being banked at the MSB since 2002."
Information above from FAQ on Plantbank's partnerships.
Also on the FAQ page: "Estimates suggest 85 per cent of Australia's flora is found no where else on the planet." One can easily appreciate why work being carried out across the Australian continent on Biodiversity is so critical.
Click on image to go to Instagram to view these images.
"itâ€™s about 94 plant species that largely feed the world" is another reason Seed and Crop diversity is so critical. Those numbers came from here at the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog, a good read from scientists Luigi Guarino and Jeremy Cherfas who aim "to collect in one place anything we find on the internet that relates somehow to the notion of agricultural biodiversity (or agrobiodiversity, though we donâ€™t particularly like the word), a big tent but one that the whole of humanity shelters beneath." Check their archives here!
The Global Crop Diversity Trust presented an excellent story on Australia on their website recently. I urge Australians to take a look at this post titled: NEW AUSTRALIAN SEED DEPOSIT: Indigenous crop wild relatives, brassica, oats among seeds that find safe haven in Svarlbad Global Seed Vault
In the last bulletin I shared a NEW VIDEO by the Global Crop DIversity Trust from Bonn in Germany exploring the Homage to the Seed project and Seed Diversity. If you missed that click on the logo below to watch the video!
This has been a very busy term... I've not even touched on the highly stimulating days spent in two Brisbane Schools doing Artist talks and Workshops.
In February I was invited to St Margaret's at Ascot in Brisbane to do a presentation on Seeds with an introduction to my Homage to the Seed project. With students embarking on an exploration of ideas for Seed Sculptures, working with clay, I'd assembled photos of sculptors working with seeds forms, many of which I'd taken during my UK research trip in 2011.
Working with talented senior students over 2 days was very enriching ... a wonderful seed collection put together by art teacher + artist Lisa Smith was a great starting point for the drawing session.
I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished sculptures on a further visit to the school for the Mayo Arts Festival at the end of May.
In March Queensland Academy of Creative Industries, QACI, held a one-day Art Program with 6 artists-in-residence conducting full-day workshops, followed by a small exhibition of work, dinner and a presentation. Read a student report from the day and view some of the work I posted to FB here!
My group of 16 explored expressive Mark-making, with an intro to Homage to the Seed project + images of work demonstrating a range of expressive approaches used in my art practice. Hours of focus with keen students resulted in fascinating and vibrant experimental work and hopefully new thinking on Seeds and biodiversity and ways art can communicate aspects of the natural world!
Other School Artist Residency programs on the agenda in 2014 include a Future-Thinking program commencing Term 2 at Kelvin Grove State College: "100 FUTURES NOW" ... this excerpt from the program outline gives you an idea of the direction of this work with Year 8 students, aged 13/14.
100 FUTURES, NOW involves creative students working in collaboration with artists and designers to visualize amazing futures and communicate their vision through art and design.
100 FUTURES, NOW uses imaginative scenarios as stepping off points for inquiry.
Having worked with the teachers steering this project before and several of the artists I know this will be a fascinating undertaking. It brings together various disciplines and layers of education. Academic Natalie Wright, who I've been fortunate to work with at QUT in Creative Industries, is investigating the direction of Design thinking in Education in Queensland, and also the broader possibilities across Australia for significant change in how education can serve the future in terms of commitment to a new kind of Design Curriculum.
It's another reason I am thrilled to be spending time at Plantbank soon, the newly opened Science Facility for Seeds and Plants in Australia which welcomes the public to engage with their work in a specifically designed complex onsite an extensive Botanic Garden celebrating the unique Plant heritage of this continent.
To be in a position to bring back to the community where I live some of the key messages from that experience, to share up-to-date knowledge in educational settings, online and through both project and artwork provides a wonderful opportunity to give back in one's multiple roles as an artist.
I'm now selling limited edition prints of my paintings... so do ask if you wish to know more ... I've had some very happy customers since that got underway! I do workshops on request... fitting them in around other engagements.
Over summer I had the pleasure of working with two young Interns, Jane and Sam. Samantha is coming in this week for a day while she is on holidays. The Studio has been growing into a wonderful, lively hub and changes as aspects of the project shift in and out of focus.
Thank you for taking time to read this... if you got this far I'm very impressed. Thank you for subscribing and until the next chapter I send you all my very
Future challenges wonâ€™t be one-dimensional, so students in this program will learn to connect apparently unrelated ideas, build bridges between disciplines, collaborate, think flexibly and embrace uncertainty. These are all key 21st century skills identified in National Curriculum and international best practice.
Partners and supporters
This program, like Senior Art and Design Excellence, will be supported by artistsâ€™ and designer residencies, and by the mentorship of key partners: The QUT Faculty of Creative Industries, Griffith University and Queensland College of Artâ€™s Design Futures program, and the Asia Pacific Design Library of the State Library of Queensland.
Artists and designers in the 2014 program:
Artists who work with ideas ranging over science, bio-ethics, biodiversity, behavior and ethics, ambient sound, urbanism, food, clothes and fashion.
OPEN STUDIO WEEKEND
SEED.ART.LAB 48 Meemar St, Chermside
Seed.Art.Lab, 48 Meemar St, Chermside
call 3359 6949 | 0430 599 344
FYI: Workshops, Retreats, Events, Presentations, Exhibitions and Residencies... available for work in community and public contexts. Please call to discuss commissions.
New paintings have been shown online and will soon be uploaded to the website. Seven or so new large works have been completed and 3 very large canvases are underway at present ... a productive year for painting so far.
Two new works are on show currently on show at the 35th Annual Rotary Art Spectacular
at the Riverside Centre, 123 Eagle St, Brisbane City till April 12.