2013 has been a year of fits and starts for the Homage to the Seed Project. Sure to be memorable later on... much of it has been spent addressing an important relocation. Common human experience is the phenomenon of undertaking things that at the time can seem intensely demanding but later worth every minute of effort.
5 months house-hunting whilst doing a make-over at the home we were selling led to the eventual departure from the family home in late June, and now we're in limbo for a month before we move to the new residence.
The studio residency at Percolator gallery in Paddington, Brisbane concluded in March after the Exhibition 'From One Small Seed', with studio contents going to storage and focus on attending to necessary details of relocation. It was a smart move, even if a little unsettling. Painting, for me, is such a complete immersion it was easier not to paint during all this chaos then try dividing focus.
What is being gained is a comfortable, spacious, well situated home, a little further from the city than we've been used to, but close to a transport junction, good Public Library, Aquatic Centre, bike path along a creek, an environment centre where a friend volunteers on seed-saving... and easy shopping access.
This photo taken in 1902 is very close to where our house is now.
|The earliest photo of the hamlet of Downfall Creek was taken in 1902. It was taken as a Hamilton family photo of Janie Hamilton, later Janie Wayper with her pony Silver and her dog. Fortunately for history it also shows much of the hamlet in the background. Downfall Creek was about 33 years old when the photo was taken from the present Burnie Brae Park. (Courtesy Hamilton Family)|
Nearby is a community garden and large park plus local history Museum I noticed the other day which I'll visit soon. The city of Brisbane was settled in 1824 so its not a very old city... and I'm keen to learn more about where we will live.
Prior to European settlement, the Brisbane area was inhabited by the Turrbal and Jagera people. They knew the area that is now the central business district as Mian-jin, meaning "place shaped as a spike".The Moreton Bay area was initially explored by Matthew Flinders. On 17 July 1799, Flinders landed at what is now known as Woody Point, which he named "Red Cliff Point" after the red-coloured cliffs visible from the bay. In 1823 Governor of New South Wales Thomas Brisbane instructed that a new northernpenal settlement be developed, and an exploration party led by John Oxley further explored Moreton Bay.
The suburb I'm moving to was settled in the late 1860's and known as Downfall Creek... at some point renamed Chermside... a pity really. Place names including geographical features can remind people of the landscape on which they're situated, and to my thinking are far more poetic than places names after prominent men. It was inspiring to read that some early settlers bought large areas of land and didn't parcel it up for housing. Parts of that land remain accessible to the public as green spaces today.
Discovering this area is something I am really looking forward to as we establish home and I set up my new studio. Downfall Creek, where the Environment Centre is also located, has a bike path running beside it so that is a good starting place.
This map is fascinating...our street is just next to the area that was being offered as Five Mile Estate... obviously 5 miles from the heart of the city which is due south.
|This lithograph would have been printed before 1898 which was the year Andrew Hamilton died. His son Thomas carried on the family business and the land sales.|
With 17 days to go before we resettle I've been able to resume working on my book. In late 2010 I produced a 68 page book about the Homage to the Seed project which was launched at the end of the year long residency at Brisbane Botanic Gardens.
Since then Ive conducted three more residencies and have one in planning at the moment yet to be announced. With so much material now collated around this project a book is almost a necessity to synthesise the experience.
The recent pack up meant sorting through a great deal of material from the last 4 years of the project ... some reaching much further back where threads of the work began.
Images from a slideshow on the project have been a start to telling the story. This image below refers to the October 2011 residency at the UK's Kew Gardens Millennium Seedbank in West Sussex.
Shaping words and text for Homage to the Seed has been an ongoing process ... I'm glad to be making headway during this nomadic 'in-between' phase.
The challenge is to cover the story of seeds from the deep past right up to now... through the somewhat personal lens of the experiences I've had, individuals Ive met or ideas pondered. It is an artist's journal in word and image rather than a textbook on the history of seeds.
Image from the May 2012 Residency at Brisbane's Institute for Molecular Bioscience collaborating with Plant Scientist Dr Joshue Mylne.
This is an exciting challenge ... stay tuned for more!