Wednesday, September 25, 2013

in the new Studio

I've just reached that satisfying stage of feeling as though I've been in this studio for ages. It's remarkably disorienting trying to work in a studio space missing that certain energy field that comes from long, productive hours inhabiting the work space. Even though its still early days here and I've not spent all that much time painting since the set up about 4 weeks ago there's a satisfyingly dense lived-in feeling present here now.

Key to that was, in part, having people visit here... sparking some great conversations ... and the 4 hour class I held Saturday for two young students with a keen sense of curiosity for the natural world... the first of many I hope!

Assembling books and materials before the class started.

Sophie and Jackson mid afternoon.

One of Jackson's numerous drawings... he's spent a great deal of time in Botanic Gardens, National Parks and anywhere he can engage with the natural world ever since he was very young thanks to his parents willingness to enable this contact. His memory and understanding of plants, seeds, eco-systems etc is stunning ... and made for some excellent discussion through the day.

One thing discussed at length were issues around Biodiversity. It was a most rewarding experience to find two students, Jackson at 12 and Sophie at 9, so keen to take part in an intensive workshop that extended over 4 and a half hours, with lunch consumed at the work table so keen they were to keep going!

I look forward to running many more workshops along this line in time to come.

Found here

I'm presently cooking up ideas for a project within my project... ready for November when i wish to launch my new studio. I've found a way to combine several passions into one idea which i will announce when the time comes.

These are a new development in my studio practice ... Biodiversity Conversation Plates ... part of a whole concept to be launched November. Hand-painted they one-off unique works and promise to be an affordable art option which I'm really enjoying creating and have broad application in people's homes, work-places and more.

Stay tuned for more on this in the lead up to the Studio launch in November.

If interested in Classes or more information on whats going on send an email and I will put you in the picture.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Local focus

Since moving house recently Ive been enjoying seeing Brisbane from a slightly different angle. No longer on the side of a large hill close to the Brisbane River in a suburb with white painted Queenslanders renovated to perfection Ive moved 10 or 15 minutes further out from the city and have two creeks not so far away to go explore in a suburb that is a more of a mix of post WWII homes and contemporary homes, with less trees and gardens on the whole then where I was living.

However the renewal of local creeks by active catchment groups and volunteers means that these areas are bringing birds and waterways back to life I'm pleased to say. 

Today I caught up with Denise whom I met in 2009 when working in the Seed Lab at Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. I wrote a post on Denise in 2010 and its been one of the most visited posts on this blog incidentally.

Denise at the Seed lab in 2010
These photos were taken by Denise and included in the earlier post:

Sterculia quadrifida - the peanut tree is native in this region and edible, striking easily from seed and is also known to be fast growing. Interested in planting it? Its perfectly suited to this region but bear in mind it does grow to 18 metres! The pods are spectacular and the black seeds are the edible bit. Its available in local council nurseries.

Acacia mangium still in its pod (top photo) and separated (underneath). If you observe closely these have an amazing yellow cord - like an umbilical cord almost - linking black seeds to pods. It zig zags out if you carefully unravel it! Denise notes its very strong smell and says a mask is required for cleaning. She points out some acacia have a soft seed coat and are easy to release...others need hot water and prying open. 

She's been volunteering at a number of sites over the last 10 years... and today took me to the one closest to her home in the Kedron Avenues... named Bennelong.

We trecked around in the midday sun and I got a great introduction to the area she knows so well having spent one day a week over ten year coming down to work here as if it were her back-yard garden.

I took samples of various finds home to my studio... love these red quandong leaves and the stalks from Lomandra grasses which Denise gave m a full introduction to on request today. More on that another time! Tonight I'm doing a very quick post!

Lomandra seeds which I am going to grow ... images in the background are from a book we were looking at on local species.

Loved these spectacular leaves from the Quandong tree with their amazing insect trails which characteristically are to be found wherever there is a tree at this stage in its cycle.

I painted the fruit of these trees in 2009 and find them stunning with their blue skinned fruit and bright green flesh ... and the bright red and bright green leaves. Different varieties have other coloured fruits but in eastern Qld I have certainly come across the blue Quandongs quite frequently.

The photo below was taken at Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens and the painting above was done in acrylic and inks on the oval canvas. 

I will be back sometime with more on a local project.

And warm thanks to Denise for taking me seed-collecting today! All volunteers welcomed by the way!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Beyond the Gardens - The Crop Wild Relatives Project

A MUST-SEE VIDEO from Kew Gardens ... beautifully filmed and highly watchable this film discusses the absolute priority of finding the wild relative seeds of important crops we rely on for our food supplies.

Plant science remains one of the least understood aspects of the work happening to mitigate climate change today! Please watch this video.

I came across this video through this article from All Africa News.

London — Gene banks are missing more than half the wild relatives of the world's most important food crops - which potentially harbour traits for higher yields, and resistance to disease and climate change - according to a study.
Scientists looked at 29 staple crops, including rice, wheat and potato, and found that around 240 of their 450 wild relatives need collecting and placing in gene banks. They published their findings on the Crop Wild Relatives website last week (22 July).
The five crops most at risk are eggplant, potato, apple, sunflower and carrot. Countries with the most threatened wild relatives include Bolivia, China, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Mexico, Mozambique, Peru and South Africa.
Over the next three years, a global network of partners led by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, based in the United Kingdom, will collect these relatives across the 30 countries where they have been identified. It will prioritise cereal crops important for Africa, including sorghum and finger millet.
The seeds will then be placed in long-term, back-up storage at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank in London.
The project will also make seeds available to researchers and plant breeders across the world so they can identify useful characteristics, and begin the 15 to 20-year process of developing improved crop breeds.
"We realise that crop wild relatives are essential for us to adapt to climate change," Jonas Mueller, international projects coordinator at Kew, tells SciDev.Net. "We need to give crops the means to defend themselves."
Over the past 10,000 years farmers have bred many useful traits out of crops, creating breeds that are often unsuited to new climatic conditions and that lack the rich genetic diversity of wild crops.
"Food crops are currently bred to a specific climate, but these conditions will change in the future," Mueller says. "The wild relatives of today's crops can help current crop varieties adapt."
The wild varieties may also be threatened by climate change, changes in land use and urbanisation, he adds.
For Mueller and his team, "farming communities in developing countries are the ultimate beneficiaries of this whole undertaking. I think it's an example of how science can help developing countries."
One aspect of this is that in some cases, the breeding of improved crops will take place in the countries where crops are grown, so there will be more immediate benefits for the countries, he says.
The study was carried out by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Global Crop Diversity Trust in partnership with Kew's Millennium Seed Bank and in collaboration with agricultural research institutes worldwide.
It is part of a larger project, 'Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change', funded by the Norwegian government until 2019.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Seeds for Needs India

Bioversity International has been working on this project in India:

More video's available HERE

Also found at this website:

Cacao, Malaysia. Credit: Bioversity International/B. Sthapit13 Sep 2013

Taste of what's to come: cocoa diversity for 50 million people globally

On International Chocolate Day, Stephan Weise, Bioversity International and Martin Gilmour, Mars, explain why supporting the conservation and use of cacao genetic diversity is vital for future production.

Climate Silence

Been thinking a lot about this lately...

I could have been posting non-stop at this page as  I've come across much worth sharing. However, setting up studio and relaunching after a forced break during relocation means there are not enough hours in the day!

but for now....

here's a link to an article that explores Climate Silence... a phrase which so aptly describes what many of us feel is happening!

CBS Breaks Climate Silence With Panel Connecting Climate Change To Extreme Weather
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