Friday, October 17, 2014

A current exhibition

Its been quite a time since I updated here at this Studio Archive blog so I am sharing a post just written for the Visual Eclectica Blog.

From late June to late August considerable hours were dedicated to painting three large works for a Textiles exhibition currently being held in the US, at Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

During the painting phase I updated often on Instagram and FB page... and below are images of the works which have been professionally photographed and are now available as Limited Edition Archival prints. Enquiries here ... I'll add a link when formal online sales are organised.

 The show opened October 10th but a formal reception is being held Saturday week.. see here:

 SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25, from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. 
 RSVP 617-876-2109 or 

Text from my website:

The series, approx, 1 m x 2 m, is painted in acrylic and pigmented ink on-stretched Linen, featuring frayed edges, and stitched with Irish linen thread. A May residency earlier this year (tab: 2014) at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mt Annan 's new seed research facility PLANTBANK presented a huge array of Australian species, seed collections and related material which was important fresh inspiration for this artwork in addition to the body of material on Seeds gathered over the last 5 years. 

The motifs in these works are abstractions of seed forms, drawn from pods, seed capsules, seeds themselves, and also in the case of the third work, from the motifs that the artist became familiar with many years ago when looking into the symbolic language of diverse ancient and indigenous cultures. A statement which puts this work in perspective can be read here.

'Antipodean Inheritance I'      1m x 2m

'Antipodean Inheritance II'     1m x 2m

'Homage to our common inheritance'      1m x 2m

This week I've spent on residency in Brisbane at Food Connect but I'll update that at my Homage to the Seed blog tonight. So check in soon.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Winter in the Studio !

The sun streams in and the studio is bathed in light!!

Summer is quite another matter ... if its extremely hot I decamp to the State Library or somewhere sure to be cool and catch up online, writing or researching. Late afternoon and night-time then become the crucial time to be busy in the studio which catches the breezes quite well.

Today studio photographs taken by wonderful Elizabeth Santillan were posted at her site: Walking among the Homes which profiles interiors in Brisbane, the city where I live!

These are the images she has posted although I am thrilled to say she will be dropping off a CD full of photos.  Given that artwork is never easy to capture, especially the sensuality and texture of materials used I am very happy with the way she has managed to shoot some of the paintings. Great angles and viewpoints refresh my jaded viewing given I am here most days and its easy not to notice the familiar.

Seed collections are dotted around the studio.

Small paintings from 2002 - 2003

This photo of an early 2014 painting above was what impressed me about Elizabeths images. The paint is a dusty subdued palette in a chalky acrylic which in real life can appeal to someone interested in this more raw aesthetic. My photos have not delivered the subtle colour or feel of this work so I was early certainly pleased with this result.

The fabric below the artwork is an old fabric that I must have bought 10 years ago... interestingly Ive been returning to those blues and browns a lot over the last couple of years. 

I've gone through so many colour phases in my work over the years. When living in Melbourne I often painting in a bright palette as if missing the north where I grew up and have since returned to.

Red oxide has crept in since 2010, blue frequently and various browns and blue blacks.

The Biodiversity Plate series really ran with blue, blue black and browns.

Then there are the works which play with colours reflective of the dark shaded Wet Tropics Rainforests of the north ... like this seed capsule cross-section motif of the Cheery Beech. 

In the midst of the dark greens of shadowy dense forests there is always the sudden burst of colour from berries, fruits and seed vessels scattered amongst the lively growth.

Texture and collaged fabric on these works have features often not noticed unless one looks closely.  the cropping is interesting... perhaps makes one more curious to see the work.

Tucked into the photos was one of the artist at work. Usually I present the artwork or spaces I'm working in but remain camera shy... at 56 the 'selfie' phenomenon looks fun but I can live without it.

I've been doing OPEN STUDIOS again lately on Thursdays...  Friday this week as I was out yesterday. Since launching Seed.Art.Lab last November I opened each Thursday til Xmas and had a many visitors which was fantastic after the months of house hunting for a place with an ideal studio.

When I returned from my May Residency at Plantbank in NSW I decided to hold OPEN STUDIO afternoons once a week again as requests to visit come in and its such a lovely tradition.

Midday to 5 or by appointment works well as I can keep working and that way I am not concerned it some weeks are really busy and some quiet. I'm inspired to do a simple clean up and that NEVER hurts. When there's a special Studio event I will advertise more widely whereas I currently use my Homage to the Seed Facebook Page and  Instagram site at the moment as the interaction and frequency of posts is very lively.

Ive been painting quite flat out since late May so have many images to download. I'm really missing time spent blogging but painting calls and bookings to teach and be involved in other projects  makes it sometimes necessary to streamline online interactions even though I do have misgivings considering the fine exchanges Ive had here over recent years.

Best wishes to all!


Saturday, June 14, 2014

April - May - June

Friday 13th, full moon... interesting timing to write a post here... especially since I've not been here since April! But since I couldn't sleep tonight I decided to put on the light and tap away on my computer and why not visit this sadly neglected blog.

Its two months since my previous post and why so long?

Simply busy. Non-stop busy!

Two months have been jam-packed with new experiences and projects,  deadlines and must-do lists, travel and residency experiences. Routine things like sleep and daily life get thrown and one can easily start to feel like focus on only the essentials is a good idea. And even then time is limited.

Ive posted consistently on my Facebook page HOMAGE TO THE SEED which resembles a very abbreviated daily diary...

Facebook images from the Plantbank Residency

and also on Instagram which, although I started about a year ago I really on learnt to use it in about March. Its a basic form of visual documentation that has grown on me.

Instagram images from the plant bank Residency!

I like that one can start a conversation so spontaneously and exchange just a few details and (quite easily) choose to continue the conversation in this light manner bit by bit.

Blogs by comparison are rather like the slow food of the online sites... Instagram at the other end of the spectrum... fast and constant... in your face... but curiously not as soulless as it first seemed to me... because of the particular people I find myself connecting with some of the time.

So that is where I have kept up to date online!

At my blog Visual Eclectica I did recently post reflections of the Plantbank Residency, a simple account of my time there. Once home from that brilliant few weeks down south I immediately stepped into an incredibly fast pace of work commitments... some of which were more involved than previously imagined.

At Homage to the Seed blog I posted on Plantbank earlier on.

So much to photograph at Plantbank.

Despite being flat out these two months there has been some slow time and certainly times Ive pondered what I discovered on residency and conversations that have been important.

I will return with more on this very soon.

Good night!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

OPEN STUDIO EVENT at Seed.Art.Lab this weekend, April 12 + 13 in Brisbane

This is a quick post ahead of a big weekend at my Brisbane Studio: Seed.Art.Lab to let you know all are welcome if you happen to be in this region and would like to come along!

I've just been finessing plans for our wee Pop-up cafe on the side of the Studio plans.... and went back to a favourite book of mine by Diana Henry for the recipe for Yoghurt and Walnut Cake with Coffee Syrup last night. Perhaps the Orange Almond Cake pictured above will be our gluten free offering.... the Walnut cake is not gluten free... but has substantially less flour being laden with walnuts! I go really light on the sugar in it as well... have made this many times and the flavours are sensational without loads of sweetness.

To read all the details about the event go to the website home page here.

Also on the home page is the link to the Latest Newsletter which you can read here telling you about my next residency at the brand New Plantbank Seed Research Facility in NSW and this event.

48 Meemar St
Chermside 4032
Brisbane,   QLD
m: 0430 599 344


Midday till 5pm both days
12 + 13 April, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March in the Studio

March at the studio was purposely quiet and perfect for painting with the kind of focus I'd not enjoyed in a long time. Moving last year and the period of 6 months without a studio meant starting again in September was slow and gradual... although I held a major Launch and was making the most of the new space. See the post I wrote recently at Visual Eclectica on new work.

This year I've loved the feeling of feeling of being much more at home in my studio ... and gradually getting into my strides again. I toyed with running workshops but in the end felt it beneficial to focus quite deeply and simply paint whist the chance was there for uninterrupted hours.

Now I am a month away from a residency at PLANTBANK in NSW, south west of Sydney at Mt Annan. I'm really looking forward to this ... it always brings so much input and new material that is takes a while to integrate all that in my work so to have have a quiet period beforehand has been ideal. More on Plantbank here and here.

Here are two images from the studio...

Above is work carried out for a deadline on the weekend... it was for a Local Art Prize that I entered... the first time I've had time to actually enter an Art Competition in the last 8 years. I started work in January on these 2 works above and had to send images and local them in as the entries before they were resolved works... so it was interesting last week completing them with a deadline...
and wondering if they were the best choice.

In the end however I enjoyed the process as the work I carried out in February and March was on a greatly subdued and limited palette... as seen in most of the work below.

The January work provided the impetus for the work that followed in the limited palette... yet when  I went back to the more colourful canvases it felt easier to tackle the challenge of resolving the work given the routine of focus and opportunity to discuss work with several people.

Weekend after next, April 12th and 13th I will have an OPEN STUDIO WEEKEND ... so watch this space if you wish to know about that... or contact me here.

Back soon I hope!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

catching up!

February has had its slow moments... but that was more about starting to feel restless more than anything. Maybe the heat... it makes one feel with summer around why not be off on a holiday somewhere... not trying to keep in good humour on long hot days!

Daydreaming aside its been mostly a very productive time.

I've been taking shots on the iPhone... rarely using my other cameras at all now.

a studio view... Ive been framing small works of late!

I've been through various painting phases already this year in the studio ...

I've been playing around with this simple visual idea lately

On the weekend I moved onto some large canvases... 100 cm x 150 cm approx.

I spent time Saturday applying gesso... and almost 12 hours on Sunday working on under-painting each canvas in a certain colour palette ... to become immersed in the ideas I have for these works.

These are the three works by the end of the day... ready for the next stage of working into the canvases... pushing the ideas and paint around!

Summer begins to get to me as it goes on ... the heat and the lure of the water. I drove up the Bay (Moreton bay) on Sunday morning and decided I will return soon for a day... bringing supplies and settling under trees and really enjoying this place.

This pool was in the back area next to an art studio at a tropical Garden I visited nearby in Brisbane recently. Although this looks like watercolour it is a photo I took which has then been altered using a Watercolour App which I was really taken by tonight and have subsequently played around with quite a bit!

Heres are some recent seed photographs which have been snapped on the iPhone, then put through the watercolour app and on instagram to come up with these variations.

I began to see endless possibilities for many photos Ive taken... 

I liked these images of favourite chairs... above on the back verandah of the previous family home where I lived for 5 years till last August. Below is the back outdoor living space of the new home.

And to finish.... my favourite chair... in the studio! 

More news soon!

Best to all!

Monday, February 3, 2014

SURVEY PRIZE drawn tonight!


Late last December  SEED.ART.LAB Studio interns Jane and Sam helped me draw up this survey which I was so delighted to see so many participate in … the first ever Homage to the Seed Survey!

Due to Xmas and summer holiday season we put it on hold and came back about 10 days ago to promote the survey for a February 1st deadline.

Names/email addresses went into a basket this evening and were drawn by Olivia, my 83 year old mother (and long-standing Art Patron) who was honoured to be given this task!!!

                                     Mary Robb! 

We've let Mary know and are keen to receive her postal address 
so we can organise to send the Watercolour Seedpod drawing!

RUNNER UP PRIZE:    A set of Homage to the Seed postcards!
Olivia drew Robyn West so we look forward to hearing from Robyn!

I decided tonight to add two other small prizes on the spur of the moment …

Back on Day 1 of the Survey …  our first lovely respondent Nat Billing will be sent a tiny seedy something!

YOUNGEST PERSON TO ENTER:  It was very interesting for Sam, Jane and I to note that responses were coming from the over 30’s…. well... from the over 40’s actually. So when I realised only one young person entered I decided to give 21 year old Jacqueline Wallis a small seedy surprise too. So do send us your details please Jacqueline!

I was very pleased to find so many thoughtful comments in your answers ... clearly we could have had a prize for that category too so I’ve added two  answers for you to read below! I plan to write a blog post and quote more answers on that… so stay tuned. 

Question Ten: What does the term Biodiversity mean to you? 

I thought I’s share entrant’s Corrine’s answer:

“life's variety - it is like a library of resources to keep the environment in balance - as we remove biodiversity we remove resillience, resillience to threatening processes (weeds, fire, extreme climate events and changes over time) and we lose vital links in the food web"

… good yes?

And this poignant one from Nicki when answering Q 9: Is there an environmental story that concerns you?

The grasslands that once covered the Darling Downs are classed as Critically Endangered and they are present at only 1% of their orginal level before European settlemnt. Another 70-100 hectares will be lost at Acland if Stage 3 mine is approved. This grassland has Austral cornflowers and blue grass and rare lizards. Cornflowers are one of the most beautiful plants in the world to me!





                                                   Sophie, Jane and Sam!


I've added the recent video on Homage to the Seed made by the Global Crop Diversity Trust ... its 3.30 mins and includes artwork with audio! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Video: Homage to the Seed, The Crop Trust and artist Sophie Munns

A new video put together in the last week by The Global Crop Diversity Trust in Bonn, Germany features my artwork with a discussion of Seed diversity and the Homage to the Seed project. Late last year a section of one of my paintings was used on the Crop Trust's Holiday greeting card.

The artwork featured was the painting 'Perennial Symbols from the Botanical Realm' and I wrote about that here at the Homage to the Seed blog.

Originally painted as a dyptich

A conversation about doing a video ensued from this. Ten questions were sent for me to consider with instructions to record my responses on my iPhone to send back to them. I then assembled a range of images for the video sent along with the audio material.

Its something I'd been meaning to do for a few years ... put audio and visual together in this format. They've done a brilliant job in sorting through a load of images and recorded aspects of my story... without any previous introduction to myself or my work ... its therefore quite something for them to have done this without a lot of to-ing and fro-ing.

I imagine the communications team is kept very busy at this organisation ... as a not-for-profit organisation with a huge agenda spanning many Seed Institutions, Organisations, Govts and so on around the globe they are very dedicated to sharing their programs and educating the public about their critical work.

It was such a pleasure and honour to work on this for the Crop Trust whose online media I've been following for the past 4 years with enormous interest... particularly through Senior Scientist Luigi Guarino's online dialogue. Communications staff Luis Salazar and Brian Lainoff from the Trust were very positive... it was Brian's task to assemble the video and I knew that would be challenge given the range of material I sent to the communications team in Bonn.

You'll find moments where my words might not be so easily heard. That's clued me in to working on improving my iPhone recordings next time... but I think you'll still take something away from a viewing.




You can read the latest NEWSLETTER here from the CROP TRUST or view the copy pasted in below. It's just come out ... note the video is introduced below left... along with poignant stories from around the globe.


A New Year with Renewed Drive

January 2014
The New Year has arrived and so does another issue of Crop Topics. Executive Director Marie Haga discusses the recent strategic decisions taken by the Executive Board; the Crop Trust shares its experience at the 2014 Green Week and Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin, Germany; and we underscore the importance of potatoes as we try to feed a growing world amidst climate change. Enjoy!

Marie's Corner: A New Year

Marie Haga discusses the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014. She also discusses some very important decisions made by the Crop Trust Executive more.

Underground Heroes

More than a billion people eat potatoes, the world's number three food. Protected by the Crop Trust, the genetic diversity of potatoes from South America helps fight more

Homage to the Seed

"Irregardless of the sophistication of culture or an individual's the center of everything we know is the matter of seeds." The 2013 Crop Trust holiday card included a detail of a painting by Australian artist Sophie Munns. Watch this short video showing some of her work and listen as she explains her art of seeds and the importance of crop diversity.

Green Week in Berlin

Marie Haga (Executive Director), Michael Koch (Director of Partnerships and Communications), Hannes Dempewolf (Scientist), Luis Salazar (Communications Manager), Brian Lainoff (Communications Assistant), and Stefan Thyen (Contracts and Grants Manager) are in Berlin this week for the 2014 Green Week. Check out this video to see the team in action

Global Forum for Food and Agriculture

Last week, Marie Haga gave a speech to a panel at the Global Forum in Berlin hosted by the United Nations Environmental Programme. Her speech can be found here.

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Copyright © 2014 Global Crop Diversity Trust, All rights reserved. 

Best wishes,


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Monday, January 20, 2014

January days and nights

Last week I posted at length on new work from the studio... here at Visual Eclectica ... the focus being two new large canvases.

It had been a while since I had really sustained focus for this kind of painting and now feeling much more settled in the studio it was time to work on a larger scale. I'm adding these new images but for the background notes on the works go to the above hyper link.'

Drawn to work in colours I associate with the rainforests of far north Qld I began this work by creating blocks of colour onto which I began by hand-printing the motifs in alternating colours.  

'Ode to the Cherry Beech - Ternstroemia cherryi'

The attraction to this symbol is partly in the balance of the 4 sections containing the seeds... and that in this abstracted interpretation of the actual seed capsule they form loosely a figure 8 or, one could say, an eternity symbol.

I found it virtually impossible to get a photo that gave the correct proportions ... so with these shots I didn't worry about that. The composition is defined by the horizontal selvedge in the top section of the work. I had some linen fabric that wasn't quite the right size so in the end I made the fabric selvedge joins part of the composition ... something that's been a compositional device in my work for a number of years in some works, emphasising the natural fibre and a certain rawness.

In the studio gallery.

Onto large colour blocks I used the link-cut of the seed capsule to print and build up a rich textured surface. I need to tinker a lit more with this work to feel happy that its somewhat complete ... but its usually only after some time that i am really sure about that.

The other canvas I actually worked on first and found it painstaking, slow and deliberate work. Here's the finished work with the stages imaged below.

'Seed collector's notations' 90 cm x 100 cm, acrylic and ink on linen

These images show to slow working stages...

I did have an idea of where I wanted to go with this... but was not so sure about the colours.

I wanted the work to be loose and the linen surface to show through... that I was clear about.

After some consideration I decided I didn't want to persist with this cobalt blue.

I used Sepia ink to wash over the cobalt blue paint to tone it down considerably. The colours started to settle as a consequence of that.

This is the painting more or less finished... four days later. I'm tempted to finesse a few areas... so I say more or less finished...  lightly!

close up of the work

The title struck me early one morning. I was thinking how these small symbols, dots and marks are like records, the documentation of seeds saved and counted, but not just in one place, by one person though. These notations are like inscriptions across time... the act of recording that countless people through history have done in order to take stock of seeds being saved. Long time inscribed in notations representing seeds.

In linguistics and semiotics, a notation is a system of graphic or symbols, characters and abbreviated expressions, used in artistic and scientific disciplines to represent technical facts and quantities by convention.[1][2] Therefore, a notation is a collection of related symbols that are each given an arbitrary meaning, created to facilitate structured communication within a domain knowledge or field of study.
Standard notations refer to general agreements in the way things are written or denoted. The term is generally used in technical and scientific areas of study like mathematicsphysicschemistry and biology, but can also be seen in areas like businesseconomics and music.

'Seed collector's notations' is a name that settles on this work so as if it had been painted with that in mind form the start.


notation (countable and uncountableplural notations)
  1. (uncountable) The actprocessmethod, or an instance of representing by a system or set of marks, signs, figures, or characters.
  2. (uncountable) A system of characters, symbols, or abbreviated expressions used in an art or science or in mathematics or logic to express technicalfacts or quantities.
  3. (countable) A specific note or piece of information written in such a notation.

NB: I've taken this text straight from the original post. Note that the text above comes from Wiki... just google Notation!

January this year has been interesting. Quiet, mostly home bound and working much of the time.
A new studio makes it rewarding ... and a good start to the creative process came by having spent the week between Xmas and New Year up in the mountains at Springbrook National Park where a mini-residency got me drawing and thinking about the Rainforest habitat of the area.

I've just purchased three canvases that are 120 cm x 150 cm... bigger than the usual size I work on when it comes to stretched canvas on frames. Last year I did work on fabric that was hung for an exhibition... but these stretchers are much larger than my usual work.

The challenge is to keep focused on the various admin and organisational tasks for the business side of the art practice and project.... and to still find time to tackle the large canvases. The interesting think I always find is the bigger the work the more I'm pulled in to another kind of head space. It seems to release/unleash something in the brain that I would actually quite like to understand. Small works and works on paper don't tend to have this affect on me.

The two works on the left are unframed linen works and the large work visible through the door is also a fabric hanging.

But large dense paintings demand a whole other layer of self and can sit at cross-purposes with the other stuff I necessarily put a value on too. I find this quite an enigma ... and there's often a price to pay for the journey into that deep space.

Everything brings with it some bigger element or challenge or obstacle. Worthwhile undertaking have substance and demands that can't be taken too lightly.

Recently I decided closing off comments at this blog was the best way to manage blogging with less time for the reciprocation process. I do apologise for the fact I'm breaking off from one of the most exciting and enriching aspects of blogging... my online sites are numerous and as the project I'm doing requires more of my time as it develops then somethings must change.

My very best to all who've been popping in here from time to time and may 2014 be a year that brings you much to cherish and be very pleased by.
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About Me

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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.