Monday, October 8, 2012


This time last year I was on Residency at the KEW Millennium Seedbank in West Sussex, completely absorbed in learning as much as possible during this all too short stay of three weeks. Tonight I'm back there in my thoughts as I'm currently listening to Dr Stephen Hopper, Director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew whose lecture in London in June was broadcast today in Australia on Radio National.

Hopper will have wound up his era at Kew Gardens by now (I think) in order to return to Perth in Western Australia where he is to set up a Biodiversity Faculty at one of the Universities there.

 If you can find the time ... its a brilliant lecture from a highly articulate yet accessible thinker with a profound appreciation for landscape and nature!


Professor Stephen Hopper
Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew
Plant diversity has never been more important than now. It offers solutions towards food security and sustainable livelihoods, and yet we continue to destroy species at an accelerating pace. What are strategies to preserve plant biodiversity?

Monday 8 October 2012 8:05PM (view full episode)

ABC RADIO NATIONAL : Listen to broadcast by visiting here.

Kew Gardens
Image: Tree archway, West Sussex estate of the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew
(Marc Pether-Longman,, Creative Commons)

This is from the Kings College London page on the event which was held in June this year.


Edmond J Safra Lecture Theatre
Annual Lecture
13/06/2012 (18:15-20:00)
The Menzies Lecture is one of two major public lectures organised each year by the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies. It is designed to provide an opportunity for a distinguished person, of any nationality, to reflect on a subject of contemporary interest affecting Britain and Australia.  

The lecture is free and all members of the public are welcome to attend. RSVP here
Registration URL
Steve Hopper
Stephen Hopper
From Botany Bay to Breathing Planet: reflections on plant diversity and global sustainability
Stephen D. Hopper
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey 
The establishment of Australia as a nation is intimately linked with Botany Bay, named by James Cook following the enthusiasm for novel botanical discoveries made by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on the Endeavour’s first Australian landfall in 1770. On returning to England, Banks was introduced to King George III, and they became firm friends, the King inviting Banks to become honorary Director of the Royal Gardens at Kew in west London.

Today, Kew is the world’s largest botanical garden, with the most diverse scientific collections of plants on Earth, leading inspirational research and conservation projects like the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership.  Plant diversity has never been more important than now to help with solutions towards sustainable livelihoods. This presentation will touch upon global plant diversity patterns, ongoing scientific discovery, and strategies that have helped and will help towards humans living with and sustainably using biodiversity.

Such approaches are embraced in the Breathing Planet Programme, Kew’s strategy with partners for inspiring and delivering science-based plant conservation worldwide, aimed at enhancing the quality of life at a time of unprecedented global change. Today’s plant science is also helping better understand the astounding place that Banks first stepped onto at Botany Bay, and demonstrating that Australia has much to teach the world about biodiversity and human enrichment on ancient landscapes. 

Stephen D. Hopper is 14th Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He is a plant conservation biologist, best known for pioneering research leading to positive conservation outcomes in south-west Australia (one of the few temperate-zone global biodiversity hotspots) and for the description of 300 new plant taxa. He holds a  BSc (Hons) in botany and zoology and a PhD (for a thesis on speciation in kangaroo paws) both from the University of Western Australia. After various scientific posts in the Western Australian public service, he joined Kings Park and Botanic Garden as Director (1992), and served as CEO of the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority (1999-2004).

He has conducted field research in deserts across Australia and in the USA and South Africa. As Foundation Professor of Plant Conservation Biology at the University of Western Australia (2004-06), he developed new theories on the evolution and conservation of biodiversity of the world’s oldest landscapes. His books include Western Australia's Endangered Flora (1990), The Banksia Atlas (1991), Kangaroo Paws and Catspaws (1993), Life on the Rocks (1999, 2008), Spider, Fairy and Dragon Orchids of Western Australia (2001), Soul of the Desert (2005) and Orchids of Western Australia (2008).

Professor Hopper joined Kew in 2006, steered its 250th anniversary celebrations in 2009, and has developed a ten-year Breathing Planet Programme for Kew and its global partners. Its urgent aim is to apply science-based plant diversity solutions to sustainable living in the face of accelerating climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Public talk Saturday, October 12th

A Public talk will be held at the Cairns Botanic Gardens next Saturday, October 13th to discuss the Homage to the seed Project and current Exhibition "In the Wet tropics" followed by a guided tour of the show which opens the previous night.

A beautifully laid out section of the Gardens is the Flecker Gardens.

A new building onsite is the Visitors Centre. The mirrored walls reflect the lush vegetation and make the building seem cooler.

I'm adding this seed pod which was not photographed at the gardens although there are bottle trees onsite. I've never seen pods on these trees so I was fascinated to find this image.

Bottle tree seed pods

Bottle tree seddpod found here

Back to the painting now. Wonderful weather here... two days of rain seem to freshened everything up ... today is sparkling!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A week to go ...and the rain is coming down in Cairns!

I'm staying in a large old-style Queenslander house... timber with a tin roof. Big verandah at the back to gaze over the vegetation. The Botanic Gardens is next door and Saltwater creek where crocodiles can be found (although not by me... no spottings since Ive been riding my bike over the bridge) is on the other side.

The weather has been sensational and so rain is a novelty I almost thought unlikely this month. Nothing nicer than the sound of a tin roof which rain pelting down. Rain is falling intermittently so I may get the bike out to go say hello to Gardens staff and have a coffee at the bustling Visitors Centre at the Gardens...but there is a lot of painting to do I will be mostly home bound!

I am going to post the invitation to next week's Exhibition Friday Opening and Saturday talk here in case you are going to be in this part of the world. If so... please came and say hello on Friday 12th, Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th as I will be there at the Tanks Gallery and returning to Brisbane the following week although the show will run for several weeks!

Signage from the Gardens - Tanks Art Centre Precinct:

The legible version

Go to the Tanks Art Centre website to read more.

Working with Lino printing has been a return to a process of art-making that I once really enjoyed. The raw edge and uneven print surface is an aesthetic I'm particularly drawn to... and has often featured in my paintings as well. I added 3 posts to date (Sept 23, 26 and Oct 1st)  at the Studio blog so you can see more images there of work from Cairns.

I also posted on the Weekend in Cairns at my main blog (Oct 2nd) ... getting out for the day on Saturday and seeing what was going on was a good break from the studio and several previous posts on Cairns there as well.

Here are some of the images of work in progress...

...and the previous week I set up studio and collected seed material  in and around the Gardens

I've worked in journals initially... so helpful as away to think things through.

Time to get back to the studio!

Back later!

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