Sunday, February 7, 2010

Artist-in-Residence at Mt Coot-Tha 2010

Top image from - other images Sophie Munns

THis year I have been selected to carry out my proposed work "Homage to the Seed" in a year long artist-in-residence program at the Botanic Gardens in the city where I live. Through my art practice an increasing concern for the future of seeds and their critical role in the bio-diversity of the planet prompted me to connect with the broader community in the hope of more effectively championing something I felt, along with many others, was being forgotten, and even profoundly overlooked in the scheme of things.
A fortunate series of meetings with a number of wonderful people led me to the Seed lab at the Mt Coo-tha gardens site mid last year to take part in a most interesting project being carried out there with Jason Halford in the Lab working as part of a team in conjunction with the global Millennium Seedbank Project based at Kew Gardens in the UK. During dusty* volunteering sessions in the lab I learned a great deal from Jason's excellent stores of experience - in the field as well as Lab. Volunteers I talked to, such as Bettina Palmer, have contributed for years with considerable knowledge of the project to share as a result.
This more intimate and fascinating connection with the garden fostered the enthusiasm to later apply for the 2010 residency. To view work that came out of the association with the Seed Lab and read about Botanique refer to posts from Studio Archives documented last October, and earlier here.
Margot Mac Manus - in her role as Visitor Services Coordinator at the Gardens - has been keen to promote a productive cross-pollination between all who spend time on these grounds - visitors and staff alike. During the year the opportunity to get to know staff and volunteers who contribute so much to this excellent embodiment of plant biodiversity will be sought out as will informal exchanges with visitors and participation in workshops and events planned for the year.
You are welcome to email or leave a message if you wish to know about any of the proposed activities this year during this residency... especially if you would like to be notified in advance by joining a contact list.
dusty* - the seed lab is where seeds are processed when brought in from the field after collection by Jason Halford and Co. Since they may be coming from remote parts of Qld undergoing drought the pods and capsules are often quite dried out or simply very that when prying seeds from these sometimes very tough pods one may find the work considerably harder than first imagined. This leads to contemplation of the landscapes where the seeds come from so often far away from city and lab...provoking interesting thoughts, connections and dialogue around this important conservation work. More on this project soon!


Altoon Sultan said...

Congratulations on this interesting project, Sophie. It seems to be a perfect fit for your interests. May you have a bountiful year!

Nicola Moss said...

Congratulations Sophie, you have a wonderful project to work with at the gardens. Have an amazing year.

Lucinda said...


Sophie, you'll be entirely in your element here. My brother took me to the gardens when he was living in Brisbane and it's a stunning, inspiring place. I can't wait to see how you fare. Congrats. XX

Sophie Munns said...

Oh...what a surprise waiting for me this morning!

I didn't activate the button where comments are sent first to my email...
so I did not realise I'd have messages waiting... and from you lovely people!

Thank you one and all!

now you know why i was so interested in your seed purchases by catalogue and reading about your process of cultivation through the seasons. And the agricultural focus your bring to light is as you know a reminder of my childhood.

Thank you for wishing me well and I know I am going to be learning a great deal.

Sophie Munns said...

Dear Nicola,
I really appreciate your well wishes... as I said to you earlier...coming from one who has walked the paths...literally. Your year in the Gardens produced an astonishing body of work and brought delight to I humbly set off, tip my hat to you and see what I can come up with on this wondrous journey.
S x

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Lucinda,
I'm thinking I am talking with the wonderful Lucinda of Nourish Me fame. BUT your name does not link to that so then a tiny bit of doubt set in! I'm sure we will sort that out. Soon!
Big thanks for warm wishes this morning and if you ever photograph seeds with your keen eye Lucy I would love to link in the image IF you wish to share...and with your prose on this subject - just a thought!
S xx

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Dear Sophie,

I am so happy for you and the masthead looks great!!

I know the position does not pay anything but there are going to be other rewards for you and I can see with your prolific writing and art that this may become a book.

I will look forward with joy to following you here to.

Warmest regards,

PS: I wish I could have been your firs follower, I know so childish . . .

Sophie Munns said...

Dear Egmont,
Thank you for the sweet and thoughtful message and continued encouragement!
I must say I am looking forward to collecting people's stories and somehow adding them to this journal - interviews and/or very brief recollections relating to seeds.
Do you recall posting on Jean Giono's "The man who planted trees". I'd lost track of a copy of the story so I was so glad to have found the reference through your excellent blog. Such an important story. The kind needed for this time...that quality of story which is like a lighthouse in the dark stormy night which our world in some ways is.
That is a great thing about this year...the opportunity to be learning from so many people dedicated to all things botanical and with a conservation focus.
I'm sure you would have a seed story Egmont! I shall look enjoy your visits from afar as the year unfolds.
my best wishes,
Ps A compliment from you on the masthead is indeed a compliment knowing your attention to design details and communication of ideas!

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Dear Sophie,

Thank you for your kind words and especially for remembering a book I have taken to heart by planting seeds of trees and watching then grow over the years.

Warmest regards,

Sophie Munns said...

That is the power of a great story Egmont. It works on you and through you... you "took it to heart and planted lots of trees from seeds!"

This is why we need these potent stories as opposed to constant din of sobering "news". In our minds many of us know why conservation is so important...but when it shifts to our heart and tips into an awakened passion or empathy that carries our actions a whole lot further!
Perhaps a post with this brief story featuring the book would be timely in a month or two.
thanks for responding again!

Anonymous said...

So pleased by this connection for you. Good luck Sophie. Sounds like a compelling setting.

sophie munns said...

Thank you Deborah (Slow Muse)!

The setting is indeed stimulating on all levels. I appreciate your kind words,

Maggie Neale said...

Sophie, this is a wonderful project and great blog about it. I am learning so much about your part of the world. I love seeds and botanical gardens, so I'm glad to be a follower. Thanks for your posts!

Sophie Munns said...

I am delighted you have added your name to 'followers' Maggie which I had a bit of fun renaming - with the bit about kindred spirits, associates etc.

It's extraordinary to think particular interests can align with others dotted around the globe...and find a forum for connection like this!

I am similarly delighted to be able to glean so much of other places, culture, daily life, habitat etc from this interactive vehicle.

The smallest things can be such a wake up ... and when I had time last year and found blogs in more from places unfamiliar it was such a treat to be able to pick up the nuances of daily life!

best wishes with your endevours Maggie!

Nellie Phillips said...

Hi Sophie!
I love your paintings & photos. It reminds me of the Australian bush where I used to live. Now I live in Copenhagen, Denmark and I work there in my art studio. I have recently made a blog myself -

Keep painting your inspiring seeds!

Nellie Phillips

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Nellie,
all the way from Denmark - thanks for connecting and leaving your warm message. I noticed you have just started a blog - may you enjoy this new the image of the houses by the waterfront.
ps no doubt lots of pods and seeds will be painted this year!

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