Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Experts gather to discuss food security

Last night The Global Change Institute : The University of Queensland hosted a FOOD SECURITY SUMMIT : PUBLIC FORUM at Customs House overlooking the Brisbane River. The 2 hour forum and conversation over drinks following made for an extremely engaging evening.  Read more.


Malcom DuthieMalcolm Duthie
Country Director, United Nations World Food Programme, Gambia
Mr Duthie, an Australian national, and is the current Country Director for the United Nations World Food Programme in Gambia. He has a degree in Economics and Masters in Social Planning and Development.
Mr Duthie has served in a wide range of positions and had undertaken assignments in many African countries. Prior to his role in The Gambia, he worked at WFP headquarters in Italy on a global assessment of WFP's decentralization approach. Prior to that he was the WFP representative in Laos where upon his end of duty was decorated by the government with their highest honour ever awarded to a foreigner - the Cross of Friendship - provided in recognition and appreciation for his work for the poor in that county.
He has also served in Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Cambodia and Indonesia.
David CrombieDavid Crombie
President of the National Farmers’ Federation
David Crombie is the President of the National Farmers’ Federation and operates family properties, breeding cattle and farming in southern Queensland. He also holds the positions of Director GRM and Rosewood; Deputy Chairman, FKP. Previously, David served as Chairman and Board Member of several national agribusiness and advocacy organisations.

Note:Unfortunately Annie Shattuck, Policy analyst, Food First, USA, can no longer attend due to family commitments.

Dr Jagjit PlaheJagjit Plahe
Jagjit Plahe is a Lecturer in International Political Economy and Course Director of the Diplomacy and Trade Program at Monash University. She has a strong commitment to research that focuses on, explores and analyses the implications of the global trading system for economic, social and cultural rights in the developing world.
Jagjit has previously worked in international development for the United Nations (in Kenya) and the non-government sector (in Kenya and Australia). She has undertaken project work for several development institutions including Action Aid and Centre for Trade and Development.
Her doctorate was on the political economy of the WTO’s intellectual property rights agreement and its implications for small rice farmers in the North-Western states of India. She has recently published articles in Third World Quarterly, Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy and Intellectual Property Quarterly.
Julian Cribb
Julian CribbScience communicator and author, Julian Cribb and Associates, Australia
Julian Cribb is an author, journalist, editor and science communicator and principal of Julian Cribb & Associates who provide specialist consultancy in the communication of science, agriculture, mining, energy and the environment. His career includes appointments as newspaper editor, scientific correspondent for The Australian newspaper, director of national awareness for CSIRO, member of numerous boards and advisory panels, and president of national professional bodies for agricultural journalism and science communication. His published work includes over 8000 articles, 3000 media releases and eight books. He has received 32 awards for journalism.

I was sorry to hear the speaker from Food First was unable to having been reading about their work recently.
I did manage to speak with the excellent speaker Jagjit Plahe after the forum as I had scribbled notes furiously through out her talk on the World Trade Organisation - in particular  India and the Intellectual Property Rights of SEEDS. She pointed out that Monsanto have now, through mergers and acquisitions, been taking over the world vegetable seed market. Read more on this speaker here. I hope to interview or receive further material from Jagjit Plahe soon.
The final speaker Julian Cribb offered much to consider as does his book below published by CSIRO Publishing here.
Coming Famine
In The Coming Famine, Julian Cribb lays out a vivid picture of an impending planetary crisis – a global food shortage that threatens to hit by mid-century – which, he argues, would dwarf any in our previous experience. Cribb’s comprehensive assessment points to a dangerous confluence of shortages – of water, land, energy, technology, and knowledge – combined with an increased demand created by population and economic growth.
Writing in brisk, accessible prose, Cribb explains how the food system interacts with the environment and with armed conflict, poverty, and other societal factors. He shows that high food prices and regional shortages are already sending out shockwaves to the international community. He warns that the heightened risk of regional famines will have a planet-wide effect on food prices, trade, and conflict and will generate new waves of refugees. But, far from outlining a doomsday scenario, The Coming Famine is a strong and positive call to action, exploring the greatest issue of our age and providing practical suggestions for addressing and averting each of the major challenges it raises. Text : CSIRO Publishing.

It was a most worthwhile evening of conversation and meetings. Weaving ideas together with others from different disciplines is an ideal outcome for an event like this. I have several leads to follow up on now.
I am particularly grateful to have met Australian based academic Jagjit Plahe undertaking potent work on agendas around intellectual property and seeds.

I'll leave you with this poem sent to me this morning from Anne Tennant whom I met last night. With warm thanks to Anne.

Good day my friends! I thank you for your ears
And yet am loathe to burden or distress
My thoughts are not of happy things for sure
Demons dark which mar my joys and life
I have no right to claim them mine alone
They are for all across this world of ours
And your own peace of mind is too at stake.
I thank you for this gift which now I seek
Of your inclusion in the threats we share
So! On with my tale and here it is.

On food, a thing we all must eat and love
And yet this is a sinister evil tale
Of how supply is owned around the globe
By less than six monopolistic giants
Involving slavery and greed, control of seeds
So profits put at risk all food for all
In future through their bioseed and loss
They press the farmers down and prices up
We are puppets complete in their dark game
Yet not a one among us knows their names
Nor who they are nor where they are nor why
They are discrete though huge, they rule us now
And sow poverty and famine all around the globe.

I feel so small, they seem so vast and bad
This is my pain that all my care is vain
And urgent want to make a change for good
Breaks like a wave on rocky shore in foam
And sucks away pathetically to nought
I share my grief with you so you will know
I care about this world of ours and grieve
I would it were not so that evil had advanced
So far and taken over all the stuff of life
But we are late advanced in world decline
And empires sure have crumbled past to dust
We well may live to see in our short lives
The end of this dark story yet unfold
And all may pay a price we none desire
For evil greed of those anonymous six.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Working in the Homage to the Seed journal

Working in the journal today I realised it was quite a while since I'd photographed images for the homage blog. These are some of the pages from this year's journal. Other pages have been added to this blog from time to time. As I downloaded them I was reminded I must find correct names for some that I have picked up to draw and not yet identified.

title page

These drawings vary greatly in approach and purpose of the drawing. When the Seed Lab is open and operating I am likely to do simple pen drawings and document notes whilst working and engaging in discussion about the Seed-banking process.

A variety of mediums is employed for work in the journal - and this is very much a thinking process as well as mediative one. Not all ideas will find their way into the paintings and larger works - but extensive journal work contributes greatly to the entire engagement with all kinds of concerns in producing a body of work.

One of the main preoccupations of the year visually and aesthetically has been exploring the enormous diversity of forms waiting to be discovered - whether by research and secondary methods such as library books from the Botanic Library at Mt Coot-tha or by drawing from the range of finds that are at my disposal or given to me by any number of people who look out for things I might like to draw.

The journal is the place I purposely investigate ideas that occur as I work. Unlike the discipline of the Botanical Illustrator whose goal is scientific accuracy my work is a distinct departure from such preoccupations and allows me the opportunity to see the seed, the pod or capsule as both motif and metaphor... as emerging from a continuum with unique structures and variations for each species being examined.

cross-sections of seed capsules from rainforest fruits


Albizia lebbeck

Same subject above... completely different materials and manner of working. Both works evolved into completely different ideas despite having started out as very similar colour pencil drawings. Unlike some artists who know exactly what it is they wish to replicate .... for me the possibility of something finding its ideal form and materials 
pushes me to take risks and accept that some works have even been lost from working it further.

Painfully slow this process may be - so much time spent working in the journal - but for me it is worth it. Well-worn formulas are not my preference.... nor repeating one or two ideas for a whole body of work. The challenge is to balance the need for truly animated forms with the desire for continuity and a focused vision. Certainly the journal generates the rhythm that can carry over into the making of the larger works.
Herein lies the metaphor of the seed...catalyst for that which grows out of its humble beginning!

Banksia - species not yet identified

Often one drawing is more representative of the subject.... which then leads to the abstraction on the opposite page.

Banksia seeds - interesting to note that fire is often the force that causes the dispersal of the banksia seeds... that or extreme heat.

The seed pod on the left is many times enlarged for dramatic effect.

The seeds on left were given to me by the Garden's caretaker... the right pod is from the Garden's carpark


Syzygium oleosum: blue lilly pilly and  Alpinia caerulea: blue ginger

These are some of the pages... no doubt more will be added at some stage. The next few months will be very busy
working with this material as well as  new seeds collected by Jason Halford on the recent MSB /Seeds for life collecting trip in Northern Queensland.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Seed Seekers

'The Seed Seekers' is the title of an article from the recent Australian Geographic Magazine (April-June 2010) which was placed in my hands by a thoughtful friend in Melbourne this week.

Article on seedbanks from Australian Geographic
To read more from this article go to this web journal post at Australian Geographic.

The journey of a seed ends in the cold room at the Millennium Seed Bank in sourthern England. (Photo: Richard Weinstein)
The journey of a seed ends in the cold room at the Millennium Seed Bank in sourthern England. (Photo: Richard Weinstein)
from the article:

Seed banking involves collecting and storing seed from plants. It is both an insurance policy against extinction and a source of high-quality material for the restoration of habitats. It's labour-intensive work but is cost effective - it is estimated an average of $5000 is needed to save a species from extinction. The NSW Seedbank ( the source of information for this article) received an injection of funds from the State Government in 1999 and a major boost from the MSB upon joining its program in 2003. More recently, HSBC Bank Australia became a major BGT supporter and part of its funding was directed to seed banking.

What's learnt in the seed-banking process also aids the understanding and management of species in the wild. So far, MSB has banked seeds from 10 per cent of the world's known wild plants, more than 24,000 species, including 12 now extinct in the wild. Its next target is to have saved seeds from 25 per cent of plant species by 2020. Roughly a quarter of all the world's plant species face the threat of extinction, but twice that number could be at risk should the average planetary temperature rise 2-3°C, as climate change experts predict. Of Australia's 25,000 species, 23 per cent are under threat. 

"For many years, we were concerned about seed banking because there was this concept of whether we had a gene bank or a gene morgue," says Dr Cathy Offord, manager of horticultural research at the BGT. She says the knowledge and techniques built up during the past decade have "enabled us to be confident to say that we can successfully collect the majority of species that grow in NSW". Still, some species continue to perplex. "There are still a lot of challenges," she says. "We could spend several lifetimes even on just one or two species."
 "Seed knowledge, I believe, is going to be quite critical over the next couple of decades. - Peter Cuneo, BGT's Seedbank manager.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

botanical alchemist - in town soon...

india flint 

botanical alchemist  : author of ECO COLOUR
marianne hall + roz hawker
for one night only 
exhibition in conjunction with a
sold out 5 day bio regional dyeing workshop led by India 

 Saturday 18 September    5pm – 8 pm

frocks , wraps and fabric lengths, works on paper and sterling silver pieces

e: rozhawker09 at gmail dot com

You can read much more here at India Flint's website
and at her blog

where you will discover why this is such a wonderful opportunity 
to go and meet this renown artist and see her work 
along with that of 2 others who are collaborating on this occasion.
Such a shame this workshop has sold out.... ages ago I might add...
you could twist her arm to come back to this part of the globe... perhaps!

Im leaving you with this last image from India's blog...  your mission , should you choose to accept, is to wander over and see what the significance is of this  image!                                                  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

enclosed and safe...

In the broad earth of ours, 
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
 Enclosed and safe within its central heart, 
Nestles the seed perfection. 
- Walt Whitman

photo courtesy Passage Paradis

I am pleased to announce I have been working on this new website here. Of course  - a little finessing is in order before it can be declared finished!
At the same time I have found difficulty downloading images from my computer which means I have photos ready to post but no way of accessing them here at the moment. Please do tell if you have had this problem...esp if you you managed to solve it!!! Thank you!
Poetry found thanks to Russell M.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Revisiting 'Ways of Seeing'

In March I posted on the varying ways we see the world. Lovers of the visual realm, literature and the arts in general get to appreciate this continually as we investigate new discoveries and revisit the old. Some of us are very eclectic in out tastes...whereas other may be more focused on a particular theme, style, genre or mood.

I wanted to make a link here to that March post for its broad ranging approaches to the botanical world demonstrated by diverse artists....most found at one source.

Picture 36
David Hockney

Rudolf Blaschka

Tonight I also posted a story on Christchurch, New Zealand which contained  works from a various artists -all New Zealand artists past and present - one working with native plants as a subject for beautiful large pastel drawings. Click here to see that post.

Marlborough Rock Daisy I - Marilyn Rae-Menzies

Friday, September 3, 2010

If you're in Brisbane over the next few days... or the 9th of October....

This weekend.......

Read here to see the program of events and writers speaking....some free ...some ticketed!

......then in October at the same venue!

Unlimited AP: Free Public Talk: Smart Cities and Eco Warriors

Saturday, October 09, 2010 from 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM (GMT+1000)

Brisbane, Queensland

Join our panel of urban food revolutionaries, led by international architect and author CJ Lim, for their glimpse at a future where cities refocus as productive agricultural places.
Humans have desired fresh healthy food since time immemorial. Yet modern systems have made distance an irrelevance. Processing, packaging, transportation and storage account for 80% of the energy used to place food on the plate. Produce travels an average of 2000 to 3000km from farmer to consumer.
As we experience a global food crisis resulting from climate change, increasing populations, low productivity, and food crops being converted to biofuels, the world is heading for a drop in agricultural production of 20 to 40 percent.
Can this challenge be surmounted through new systems of urban agriculture?
Picture cities that produce food rather than simply consuming it, diverse natural places where planning, building, and transportation make way for the most crucial of human necessities – food.
Can a new urban economy blossom, where individuals communities and businesses will restructure their relationship to the urban habitat – creating a new era of urbanism where past and future converge?
Speakers include: CJ Lim (Studio 8 Architects UK, Author Smart Cities and Eco Warriors), Richard Weller (University of Western Australia, Author Boomtown 2050),

Its a free event ... so book now!!! Check the website for other events on as part of this special Asia Pacific Week.

The State Library building at night

interior of State Library
This image was found at CITY OF SOUND blog sure to see the other images at this blog if you like libraries or architecture...its a fabulous building!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...