Saturday, August 28, 2010

MID 2010: Open Studio Week at Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha

A whole month in June/July was taken up with planning and conducting a key artist-in-residence undertaking at Mt Coot-tha. The Richard Randall studio was the venue for a 7 day event that has been documented at both my artist weblog and residency blog in numerous posts.
The week showcased artwork produced for the year to date, with a collection of seeds and pods, a blogosphere mail-art show designed to promote the event and topic of seed conservation,  workshops,  information and promotion of materials related to seed conservation and awareness and 2 days of public dialogue events. 

The Randall Studio


A communal table (pictured above) with mini cafe was set up as a meeting place to promote engagement with the residency material. Visitors to the Botanic Gardens came from both interstate and overseas as well as the local region.  Much promotion brought many participants - particularly for the dialogue events. The Mail-Art show also drew quite a number who had read about it via the global blogosphere which had most fortunately picked up the project and further promoted it on my behalf.

The 'Homage to the Seed' proposal undertaken this year has involved several strands of activity and interaction which were successfully demonstrated during this week of public engagement.

The foundation for the Botanic Gardens experience has been involvement in the Seed Lab at Mt Coot-tha so it was excellent to be able to include a presentation by Jason Halford on the work of the 'Seeds for life' Project which is running in conjunction with the Millennium Seed bank Project in the UK. Jason's excellent presentation spelt out the complex nature of the work being done, from the research of where in Queensland seeds are collected and why, to the methods of collecting and documenting as they go, to the work done at the lab on return  - cleaning seeds and preparing them to be sent to the Kew Garden's Seed Bank in the UK....whilst storing seeds locally as well.

Jason Halford presenting on Seeds for Life/MSB project

The final event - Dialogue on Seeds, Biodiversity and Sustainability - involved 2 key speakers and several brief presentations which broadened the Homage to the Seed discussion into a range of topics that included urban food growing, food security, loss of habitat for industry (mining) and development, land regeneration (esp after mining), and school gardening programs.

Sally McCreath, Nicki Laws (Darling Downs - Farms not Mines advocacy) and Chruschill Fellow (2009) Corinne Unger. (Regeneration of Mining sites -Soil and Land Regeneration)

The most rewarding outcome of the week was observing the keen public engagement ... seeing that the comprehensive range of seed related material being showcased did in fact allow people to find a way in to consider more fully the broad spectrum of issues and aspects of our global Seed Heritage.

Carolyn Nuttall - Founder in 1992 of Edible Gardens in Schools in Brisbane region. Her book is published in various languages and still widely used.

Read more here: You've got mail! and here at Hot off the press.

The Mail art show:

Seeds on display

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The new Studio Residency - August till January.

IN JUNE when taking part in a group show at Percolator Gallery in Paddington I was offered the opportunity to take up residency in a studio below the gallery from around August through to the end of the year. Helena Lloyd, the gallery owner, had heard an artist talk I presented previous to this and was interested in the work being carried out for the Homage to the Seed project... having already considered offering the 'studio residency' format for the purpose of fostering an artist's project that had a social/political/community dimension to it of value to her way of thinking. 

Being approached by Helena with this offer was indeed both timely and fortuitous as the work I was doing was only getting more complex, busy, and the space for working I had at home, 30 minutes form the gardens, was insufficient to say the least. In February when commencing as Artist-in-residence at the Botanic Gardens my information of the availability of a studio space had turned out to be incorrect. I was aware of the fact there was no funding for the residency but in contrast the studio situation had been omitted from the application material allowing me to assume that my source for knowing of a studio was correct.

Being very much a studio based artist for many years working with a variety of research material of all kinds is quite the foundation of my art practice. Undertaking a particular residency project that connects with the seed lab, library, stories, people as well as literally seeds and pods did strike me as a critical challenge when not able to access an actual studio on the grounds where not only space but the capacity to be on site in a regular way - rain, hail or shine was a given.

The images of the Percolator studio below were taken today after the intial phase of setting up some work areas - the agenda for today!

The white support column in the photos above block the view of the double doors which open out onto a wide verandah that looks over the garden and view of surrounding houses, streets and across the city a short way. The generous spaces and storage areas, the views, the deck and the fact a breeze will be accessible on the hot days make this the perfect studio for the 5 months remaining of the Botanic Gardens residency.

With the Gardens less than 10 minutes away its going to be quite a simple task to set up painting for the day - go across to the gardens to check in on any number of things there... and back again to keep painting. The studio and gallery is very well-located...a short bus-ride to the city and close to chops, bookstores and cafes. years ago I day dreamed of spending some time in this area... so today setting up and getting the paints out was a great event!

Seeds, pods and various things I like to have on hand are shelved near where I can set up a desk. I have made a point to put up a whole series of works on paper at the moment from several years ago mostly so that I can go back over these ideas and dwell with them for awhile...

Below: large paintings needing my contemplation

I shall no doubt be adding many photos to these few added here tonight.
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Blogging for me is an extension of keeping a journal which I have done in various forms over the decades. The difference being this is not a closed book! I like that it offers an opportunity to explore that which concerns me as an artist and as an individual about living and participating in this vastly complex, unquestionably exciting yet unnerving time in human history. Through the blog I hope to increase the possibilties for cross-pollination which I believe can strengthen the sense of being part of something both personal and universal that is vital, expansive and refreshing.