Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Images from the PLANTBANK residency

Today is Tuesday and I leave PLANTBANK on Friday, May 9th so it has been an intensely busy period. I've been recording the days on my Facebook page : Homage to the Seed and on Instagram.

This is the photo feed from FB.  You will need to refer to May, 2014 for the appropriate images if you are reading this after May, 2014.

An introduction to the PLANTBANK Residency

In 2008 I bought a Mac Desktop computer and really for the first time started documenting images reasonably successfully, and frequently. In May 2009 I started blogging at Visual Eclectica and that PLUS getting onto a Mac computer, which gradually I could navigate with ease, represented a revolution in a sense for my Art Practice.

From a painter normally surrounded by canvases and works on paper, unceasingly productive whenever circumstances allowed, I gradually shifted the focus of my art practice so that writing became more public, articulating ideas and influences, researching and in time, further developing the Homage to the seed project after its launch in 2010 for a Residency at Brisbane Botanic Gardens.

Interactions particularly ... and research ... shaped what I investigated, how and when... and gradually that morphed into whole new chapters and directions, all within the Homage to the Seed project.

Why I mention this is to highlight the fact that whilst photography has long been a process of documentation for me .... its never been an art form in that I never took it seriously as a way for me to express what I wanted to say.

I've been surprised when positive comments were made about some images in the last few years  because it actually forced me to reflect on what one is doing when one photographs. As a painter I am not drawn to replicate everyday reality. My paintings invariably lean to abstraction no matter the starting point. Aesthetically I like nature to appear dusty and raw... seeds are often dusty and can easily disintegrate over time. Creating highly polished renditions never seemed to make all that much sense to me as a way of interpreting material as art work.

Scientifically speaking  Botanical Illustration makes absolute sense and can certainly be perceived as very beautiful or remarkable in its own right. And without doubt they can be artworks of great integrity. But personally I am pulled to a different journey in responding to seed material... be it pods, capsules, seeds and interpretations via micro imagery, drawings or photos.

At times though favouring abstract painting over photographing and drawing seeds has seemed at odds with something I very much like to do... and that is showcase the extraordinary diversity of seed forms. But back in the studio there are compering demands on my time and focus and without the availability of what I can access at a place like this the

On this residency the Microscopy Room has been like a voyage to another world ... one that I've been hoping to visit for some time. There is a lot more I could say about what this has given me but this in not the time as I have a painting in progress.

Two processes available in this room are the X-ray machine and Micro-imaging computer. I have worked on both finding X-raying seeds brought the best results to date. It takes time however and I made only a rudimentary start n the Micro-imaging.

This eucalyptus species, Eucalyptus erythrocorys , was the perfect example of a seed that at first glance seems quite ordinary. 100's of seeds fall from each capsule and its only when gathered up in a petrie dish like below... that one begins to notice each seed look different to the naked eye... size and shape vary a great deal. Three dimensional, the complexity is obvious under the microscope... but under the x-ray machine something even more fascinating can be observed.

These are the x-rays  of this same seed ...

In this image I was reminded how well over-lapping works

so made a point of crowding the seeds together in the petrie dish for this next image

...  then focused in and altered the back and white contrast tabs, using my iPhone camera to take a large series of variations and close-ups in preference to using the machine to capture images and slowly save each one... one at a time.

This imagery lends itself beautifully to artistic interpretation. It already has the appearance of a beautifully rendered tonal drawing.

I will be downloading more images soon... Ive taken 100's.  Until then you can go to Facebook for updates on this residency.  


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