Wednesday, August 31, 2011


We are presently getting ready for an exciting event to be held onsite where my studio is. This is a joyful event ...the stress is not there that comes with a show where things must be done to exacting standards and deadlines. 
Which is not to say that this weekend has been conceived, planned and prepared for without care and attention ... but it is very different when you can trawl your draws and find things that you have forgotten about and share them ... chronology goes out the window and in comes a more rapturous kind of musing and ad hoc approach. 

This morning started with a visit to Brewbakers in Sandgate Rd, Albion ... who really are the reason this research trip became a reality. Their decision to support my project  led to being approved by the Australia Cultural Fund and since then things have been steaming ahead.

This image below from Brewbakers features on my slideshow 'Homage to the Seed'... and the text on the right comes from a wonderful book published late last year called " Seeds, Sex and Civilisation" by Peter Thompson who worked at Kew Gardens throughout his career.  I cant recommend this book highly enough of you want to look at the grand sweep of the history of cultivated plants and their connection to civilisations.

This slideshow that I have been presenting in the last couple of months features the story of this artisanal bakery and links their contemporary venture with the age old art of bread-making .... wheat certainly being (one of) the oldest forms of plant cultivation for food we have on the planet.

My interest in Ethnobotany - or the human relationship to plants - goes back a long way and it's been fascinating to observe the way this Bakery cafe is indeed embedded in the community. Friendships have formed here and connections are nourished daily over the counter and at the tables of this convivial venue. The sourdoughs and wonderful products that are produced here are nourishing on many levels.

Organic flour from Queensland, Olive Oil from the nearby Darling Downs, eggs delivered from a local supplier and so on. To read the history of flour alone is a huge undertaking... ditto baking! This week if you buy your bread there you are likely to have a small note like this one below taped to your brown paper bag... 

 I think it is a wonderful affirmation for an artist to have this circle of connection between an artisan, the local community and this project on seeds! Huge thanks to Richard and Caroline - she with the very clever idea to spread the word about the Art Sale on bread bags this week! 
Caroline recently told me of her years in the Fashion Industry ... travelling to China to see manufacturing processes - especially relating to colour and dyes. Reeling in concern at the production values her thoughts turned to the critical need for organic processes in that industry... and reinforce her own conviction in this current business.

Before too long I want to document the story behind this Bakery for my project ... I like the way stories involve personal histories and passions and go beyond facts and figures to offer insight into how we can build a life around values of sustainability and biodiversity through the committment we bring to such endeavors. 
People like Richard, working ungodly hours to put this much praised artisanal product on the shelf each day... and Caroline with her endless task of overseeing other aspects of a very busy and successful business... are heros in our community as far as I am concerned, holding out for values anyone devoted to authentic practices understands. 
There is no comparison between a light white loaf from the supermarket  and a weighty sourdough from the shelves of a place like this.  Nutrition... taste...origin of the ingredients... all are accounted for here! Here's to many more businesses and ventures following the lead of this enterprise!

Read this post for more info on the weekend event... and if you live in Brisbane do come and say hello!

Dont forget my book is available  - on the weekend you can  pick up a copy in person or contact me about having it posted to your door!

Yesterday I blogged about the artwork I've been getting ready for the event .... here's a couple of the new things I now have available.

These four works are each 45 cm x 45 cm square ... composed of works on paper or fabric that have been collaged onto canvas. Ive had a wonderful week assembling and realising images in this way.
Its been incredibly revitalising... I think because I've had these ready to work with in the studio for ages and finally the momentum to focus on smaller collaged works.

The studio is swimming in material I could do something with and it heightens my awareness of the wealth of ideas that are running through this work and informing Homage to the Seed.

Text from my other blog:

Out of the blue is this oval which I was working on last year ...then came to a stand still. It featured seed capsules from rainforest plants... cross sections of the capsules to be precise. Yet in this work the pods kept 'busting into flower'... as they do! It was most unsettling ... and I left off. Last night I had another lash at it and now it seems resolved.... 

Well... less than a month now to when i depart for the Millennium Seed Bank and this exciting trip.  I've had some wonderful, wonderful messages of support and good wishes in the last few weeks... so many to thank I must say.... that will be an important  task for next week.

BUT ... before I dash off ...

today, in the mail, came a most generous money order from a true Seed Queen in Brisbane ... Gracias Denise ... she stars in my most popular Homage to the Seed blog post from last year!


Huge thanks also to Caroline and Richard ... and friends and family for seriously heart-warming support!
You're the best!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

ART PROPELLED: A Dream of Trees.

Many of us in the blogosphere look forward to visiting Robyn Gordon's blog and tumblr site whenever we can. If you asked what is was that kept luring us back I suspect there would be many answers ... and that's because there are many reasons to relish spending some time getting to know what goes on in her orbit from her home and studio in South Africa.

Robyn rarely posts on her own work... spending considerable time discovering other's work, and then, with her keen eye, paying tribute to ideas that speak to her from these travels. This is sometimes shaped into a blog post which is how a post like 'A dream of trees' came about. Numerous discoveries end up on her tumblr if not at her blog!

If you visit her blog here you will find the most wonderfully evocative post titled 'A Dream of Trees' which features one of Robyn's amazing wood sculptures along with a series of works by other artists .... and writers.

Memories of Trees by Robyn Gordon. Website here.
View these images at her flickr site to get a fuller sense of Robyn's process. As one who got a yearning to sculpt in wood when I was about 15 .... but then bulked at the reality of it when a kind neighbour delivered a section of a tree trunk to my back door for me to work with ....I have huge respect for anyone who can accomplish such a skill.

The X-factor
The x-factor
Young Hunter
Young hunter

Prayers for our Daughters
Prayers for our daughters
Door -Tree of Knowledge

Tools of the Trade
tools of trade

Up to the eyes in sawdust
Robyn "up to the eyes in sawdust"
The Owl Keeper
the owl keeper

Hello Owl !
Hello Owl!

Angel in the garden
Angel in the garden

Patterns of Africa
Patterns of Africa


Bushman Paintings in the Drakensberg
Bushman paintings in the Drakensberg




In Dogon mythology the world is thought of as a granary which at the dawn of time, was divided into compartments to house all the people, animals and seeds that God wanted to send to Earth. The first granary came tumbling down from heaven on a rainbow, having been loosened from its riggings by a bolt of lightening. It crashed to the Earth. splitting open on impact and the contents scattered across the land. Thus, life began on Earth.

This morning I was delighted that Robyn had included a small painting of mine alongside many wonderful images at this post on 'A dream of trees.' This is a work I did for an exhibition titled  'homage to the Seed' held at Noosa in April 2010. The first show of the residency year... this work was one of a pair ... a work in acrylic and ink.

TEXT from Robyn:
Sophie Munns is an artist of seeds, leaves and anything pertaining to
This piece glows! See more of Sophie's work here and here. 

I also found this work by Jeanne Myers fascinating ...

                                  Growing in the Dark. Mixed media on paper by Jeane Myers. See website here. 

The thought of seeds and plants growing in the dark, whether at night or the way things start coming to life in the soil... hidden from sight!

Robyn closes with this poignant text from Hesse...

"Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. " - Hermann Hesse

Do go see the post in full ... I have taken a huge liberty here to post this at my own blog ... 'A Dream of Trees' comes from the mind and soul of a sensitive artist who celebrates life through her own creative process in daily life and her connections with a great many creatives all around the globe! The conviviality and warmth of connection Robyn brings through speak to a pronounced artfulness for an often underrated aspect of art-making and that is the sharing and communications we can have around the work.
To do this well takes a certain quality of engagement and generosity of spirit .... a valuing beyond one's own work and preoccupations out into a much broader universe and deeper kind of engagement.

Bravo Robyn! We thank you!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Animals and plants are shifting their natural home ranges towards the cooler poles

Species flee warming faster than previously thought

Comma butterfly (Credit: Martin Warren)Warmer weather has brought the British comma dancing around Scottish nettles for the first time

Related Stories

Animals and plants are shifting their natural home ranges towards the cooler poles three times faster than scientists previously thought.
In the largest study of its kind to date, researchers looked at the effects of temperature on over 2,000 species.
They report in the journal Science that species experiencing the greatest warming have moved furthest.
The results helped to "cement" the link between climate change and shifts in species' global ranges, said the team.
Scientists have consistently told us that as the climate warms we should expect animals to head polewards in search of cooler temperatures.
Animals like the British comma butterfly, for example, has moved 220km northward from central England to southern Scotland in the last two decades.
An uphill struggle
There is also evidence that more species seem to be moving up mountains than down, explained conservation biologist Chris Thomas from the University of York, UK, who led the study.
But studies had stopped short of showing that rising temperatures are responsible for these shifts in range, he added.
Now he and his team have made this link.
Mt Kinabalu (Credit: I-Ching Chen)Species at the summit of Mt Kinabalu in Borneo may be doomed if temperatures rise further
Analysing the range shifts of more than 2,000 species - ranging from butterflies to birds, algae to mammals - across Europe, North and South America and Malaysia over the last four decades, they show that organisms that experience the greatest change in temperatures move the fastest.
The team found that on average organisms are shifting their home ranges at a rate of 17km per decade away from the equator; three times the speed previously thought.
Organisms also moved uphill by about 1m a year.
"Seeing that species are able to keep up with the warming is a very positive finding," said biologist Terry Root from Stanford University in California, US.
She added that it seemed that species were able to seek out cooler habitats as long as there was not an obstacle in their way, like a highway.
Out of range
But what about the animals that already live at the poles, or at the top of mountains?
"They die," said Dr Thomas. Take the polar bear, it does most of its hunting off the ice, and that ice is melting - this July was the lowest ever recorded Arctic ice cover - it has nowhere to go.
However, the loss of this one bear species, although eminently emblematic, seems insignificant when compared to the number of species that are threatened at the top of tropical mountains.
On Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, Dr Thomas' graduate student, I-Ching Chen, has been following the movement of Geometrid moths uphill as temperatures increase. Their natural ranges have shifted by 59m in 42 years.
These moths "don't have options; they are being forced up, and at some point they will run out of land," reflected Dr Thomas.
The British scientist said that it was really too early to start generalising about the characteristics of the species that had shifted their distribution to stay within their optimal temperature range.
"But we know that the species which have expanded the most and fastest are the species that are not particularly fussy about where they live," he told BBC News.
Geometrid moths (Credit: I-Ching Chen)Geometrid moths are climbing Mount Kinabalu year on year

More on This Story

Related Stories

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Because slow food shouldn't have to cost more than fast food

This morning I found this fantastic idea at the blog: Heirlooms and wooden spoons ...  imagined what  if we ran as an event here where I live...

To ensure we have healthy food well in the future we have to ensure that we understand the entire reality behind the production of food and how it gets to out tables.

WE spend millions on talking about health...but I dont see that translating into the kinds of activities
that get to the heart of the issues.

THIS IDEA for me ticks a lot of boxes...

1. Its convivial.... in truth a "happy meal" is a shared meal... good company and conversation... the food need not be fancy but nourishing and well put together.

2. To make 'slow food' we care to know what we are putting on the plate and have take a little time to create the meal. It is not about gourmet and expensive... but it is about thinking backyard herbs, farmer market veg, a few simple ingredients that we make the most of.

3. When we share this kind of meal there are stories to share... where one bought the tomatoes. or who grew the parsley.

Simple really.... but profound actually.

Taking the time today to care will make a difference ...especially the more we share this kind of activity and encourage it in our communities!

take the 5 dollar challenge

THE CHALLENGE: This September 17, you're invited to take back the 'value meal' by getting together with family, friends and neighbors for a slow food meal that costs no more than $5 per person. Cook a meal with family and friends, have a potluck, or find a local event.

WHY: Because slow food shouldn't have to cost more than fast food. If you know how to cook, then teach others. If you want to learn, this is your chance. Together, we're sending a message that too many people live in communities where it's harder to buy fruit than Froot Loops. Everybody should be able to eat fresh, healthy food every day.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Sign up for the challenge! You can cook a meal with friends and family, find a local event, or host your own event. When you sign up, we’ll send you $5 cooking tips.


"On Sept. 17, I pledge to share a fresh, healthy meal that costs less than $5 -- because slow food shouldn't have to cost more than fast food."
learn more
host a meal
find a meal
updates from twitter

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The garden path...

Brisbane artist writing about the botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha...

Michelle Knowles: The garden path...:

"One of my favourite places in this fair city of ours is the Mt Cootha Botanic Gardens. I can't count the number of times I've visited this special place over the past 17 years. It is typical of most botanic gardens, being carved up into sections including a desert garden, japanese garden, rainforest, native bushland, and tropical dome. Many kilometres of bitumen paths weave through all of these garden terrains. Scrub turkeys and water dragons scuttle through the fallen leaves and shrubs on your approach. Ibis stalk the grassy areas and turtles bask on rocks in the ponds and lakes" .... read more here.

Lovely to come across this post...  do visit Michelle's blog!

Lets go crazy... wild-gardening!

I thought this was such a thought-proving and interesting topic that I have reposted an article found at so you can read all about it.

When researching places I am keen to visit in London I was fascinated to learn how much is going on that deals with this very subject.  I look forward to bringing back info/images on this later this year.

Let's go the garden - August 08, 2011

Sometimes we don’t give our neighbors enough credit. There’s a common trope in eco-nerd circles, the story of the exuberant, wild, ecologically vibrant garden attacked by neighbors for failing to conform conventional aesthetic standards. These unenlightened lawn worshipers complain to the city, dismiss the native plants as weeds and fret about vermin.
But the research doesn’t necessarily support this familiar story. Today, at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Austin, Texas, conference-goers heard another story. Petra Lindemann-Matthies of the University of Education Karlsruhe, in Karlsruhe, Germany presented 250 people with photographs of a subset of 36 Swiss gardens, some diverse, some dull and dominated by lawns, and asked them to rate them on their beauty. Her colleague Thomas Marty of the University of Zürich had counted native Swiss species in each garden, giving himself 75 minutes per garden. The least diverse had only 20 species, the most, 105. It turns out that the Swiss public thinks the most diverse gardens are the most beautiful (r = 0.47). So maintaining a perfect lawn to impress the neighbors may be a losing strategy. Far better, this research suggests, to put in a meadow of native grasses and flowers and then just let it go crazy. 
Interestingly, when given adjectives to describe the gardens, the 250 subjects tended to pick words like “natural” and “diverse” to gardens they thought beautiful. But some ecologically managed gardens were also described as “wild” and “chaotic,” and these were ranked as ugly, hinting that there are complex connotations to these eco-gardens.
When added to the work of landscape ecologists like Joan Iverson Nassauer, who has surveyed people in the US Midwest with photoshopped gardens in various states of tidiness and ecological diversity, the work is more evidence that the “critical neighbor” is, in Lindemann-Matthies’ words, “a figment of the imagination.”
If you are interested in going crazy in the garden, there are a number of resources to help you get started. The consensus seems to be that it takes a bit of work initially (ripping out a lawn is tough, for starters) but then takes little or no ongoing maintenece. Here are some resources:
-The National Wildlife Federation program to certify wildlife habitat gardens
The Wildlife Trust and Royal Horticultrual Society’s Wild About Gardens page.
There are also many local resources tailored to particular ecosystems, like Adelaide’s Backyards for Wildlife.
Pictures courtesy Lindemann-Matthies
“We might prefer to believe our gardens are somehow cleaner and more gentle than the rest of the great outdoors. Perhaps this is why we are still so easily surprised when we hear about what goes on within their borders.”
Dominic Couzens

Front Garden with local native species

The Backyards for Wildlife (BFW) initiative has been promoting the planting of local native species in urban gardens as a way of increasing the connectivity and amount of Adelaide’s bushland habitat, from the coast to the hills. By selecting indigenous plants, gardeners can help re-create some of the important ecological relationships that have been lost from their local areas.  These native habitat gardens can provide food and shelter for local wildlife, thereby supporting many of our threatened species into the future.
One of the keys to bringing back the Adelaide bush is in using plants grown from seed which has been gathered from local remnants. By doing this, gardeners can help to protect and maintain the genetic integrity of the bushland indigenous to the Adelaide region. These local plant varieties are adapted to local soils and climatic conditions, surviving for generations on rainfall alone. In this age of diminishing water supplies, using these drought tolerant species makes good sense.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...