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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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.

Monday, January 6, 2014

From the cool of the mountains to the summer heat of home!

Really missing the vistas of Springbrook Mountains and the National Park since arriving home on Wednesday... New Years Day. Its uniqueness, this region known as;

 The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia (formerly known as the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves) include the most extensive areas of subtropical rainforest in the world, large areas of warm temperate rainforest and nearly all of the Antarctic beech cool temperate rainforest. Few places on earth contain so many plants and animals which remain relatively unchanged from their ancestors in the fossil record.
The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1986 (extended in 1994).
The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia were one of 15 World Heritage places included in the National Heritage List on 21 May 2007.

Having time to muse on this recent trip and the work being done by the Springbrook Rescue Project
that we took part in whilst staying at Koonjewarre has been very useful. Not rushing about during the present heat means thinking and reading time... always productive for  disparate ideas to get a chance to weave together a bit! As I tap away on the keyboard my feet are soaking in cold water and an overhead fan and small floor fan are chugging away.

The pond at the entrance to where I stayed on the mountain retreat had this beautiful moss-covered tree that was stunning and absolutely had to be photographed. The location is utterly unique 

One of the highlights of the week was meeting Aila Keto whom you can read about here at Jane Elix's blog or below here:

Dr Aila Keto, Australia

03 July 2012 | News story
Australian born Aila Keto is the founder and President of the Australian Rainforest Conservation Society (ARCS), an NGO Member of IUCN. She has made a sustained and major contribution to conservation science, policy and practical programmes over several decades, and is widely acknowledged for her leadership, influence, knowledge and experience. Continue reading here.

The work of Aila Keto, husband Keith Scott and supporters of the Australian Rainforest Conservation Society have played a massive part in building recognition and awareness of this region's global  uniqueness as a biodiversity hotspot.

About ARCS

Founded in 1982, the Australian Rainforest Conservation Society (ARCS) is a national, non-government, not-for-profit organisation with headquarters in Brisbane. Its goals are to protect, repair and restore the rainforests of Australia through research, lobbying, public education and grass-roots support. ARCS has succeeded in achieving protection for large areas of Australia’s rainforests and continues to play a leading role in the ongoing work required to conserve this rainforest heritage.

image found here

Through 2013 I kept coming across whispers, news articles and reports from this region about Springbrook National Park's future. The work of the Rescue Project and in particular Aila Keto was being challenged in the media and my concern over the politics of this state, change of Govt plans and more led me to spend time in Springbrook at Xmas to find out for myself what was at stake. The possibility of a longer residency was discussed and when there is something to report I will of course post on it.

In the mean-time I am pouring over the images I took whilst up there and thinking my way around this very critical topic as I draw in the studio back at home again. I've also been revisiting the Flickr sites of a couple of keen photographers, especially by Black Diamond + here, who's extensive background in Australian Rainforest Fruits, seeds and such has long informed my own work at Homage to the Seed. Please note the COPYRIGHT NOTICE if you visit his professional flickr site. Images are not shared without permission and I've had excellent communications when I've written so I ask you respect this request.

Visit this page

Through the flickr page I found the link to the Rainforest Seed Project which was put up by the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney which is something I definitely wish to learn far more about.

This excerpt  comes from the link about to the Project.

Australian rainforests - diverse and vulnerable

Australian rainforests cover only 0.3 % of the land and yet contain more than 50 % of the plant biodiversity of our nation. Three significant World Heritage listed areas that occur on the east coast of Australia have large rainforest components. In NSW and southern Queensland, the so-called ‘Gondwana Rainforests’ occur as a ‘discontinuous chain of islands in a sea of fire prone eucalypt and agricultural lands’. They contain more than 200 species of rare and threatened plants and animals.

There is much to absorb and attempt to somehow bring to my own project. Drawing is good thinking time and last night I cleared space to get into drawing with Sepia ink.

The four images below are all inspired by images found at Black Diamond's Flickr site. Each is a species I wish to learn more about

This species is the Australian Native Peanut tree, Sterculia quadrifida, and the photo below was taken by Denise Rivers ... see post at Homage to the Seed here. I recently planted this species at my new home, in a pot as instructed, especially as I was unsure how large a tree it might grow to be.

 I was drawn to some images of the Native Wisteria or Callerya megasperma.
Scientific Name:Callerya megasperma (was Millettia megasperma)
  • Pronunciation:call-ERR-ee-ah meg-ah-SPERM-ah
  • Common Name:Native Wisteria
  • Derivation:Callerya:

    megasperma: large Seed
  • Type:Vine, tall woody Climber to the tops of trees, Climber,
  • Family:Fabaceae
  • Flowers:Purple, lilac, spring
  • Fruit:Pods, long woody velvety with large brown seeds
  • Vegetation Type:Sub-tropical Rainforest, Wet Eucalypt Forest

Here is  a very simplified version of this seed pod. It like to take time to really get to know a species and do many drawings, simple and complex in order to build some familiarity.

 Below is the same pod, drawn in ink and aquarelles.

Cross-referencing info online brings much more to the process of drawing. Often the documentation,  whether through blogging or other means,  leads to a far greater understanding of the species role in the eco-system.

Each time I visited a viewing point on the mountains  and gazed out to the coast (in this image below you can see high rise buildings through the haze ) I could help but wonder how many people have travelled to the Gold Coast to visit, or been enticed to stay without even stopping to ponder these ancient mountains, let alone visit and acknowledge their importance and value.

Lookout from Springbrook. Boardwalk and lookout, Gold Coast
Image from here.
I spent New Years eve in the temporary Studio I set up at the mountain retreat. Only 4 of us were left onsite that night...and we shared a simple meal of Avocado on toast and various nibbles. And chocolate! We talked about the places we value and have travelled to. I then returned to the studio and did some drawings and pondered the year coming in.

My new years resolution was to make sure I identify the seeds
I photograph asap so I don't forget where they came from or 
what they are. These were found onsite up there yet I forgot to 
get the name and now have to track them down when I can.

Thos pods below are Mahogany and have been collected ages
ago and are a good drawing subject in workshops and classes.

May 2014 see more people on this planet awakening to the life-giving value of the environment beyond real estate prices and development possibilities. Every day and every conversation counts if we are going to succeed in keeping this planet sustainable for human life. Not caring and not acting on this is as much a problem as anything being done out-right to destroy the natural ecosystems that preserve our future.  I wish I could say otherwise!

Best to all,

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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.