Thursday, April 30, 2009

Autumn in the Japanese Garden

One of the benefits of being artist in residence at the Mt.Coot-tha Botanic Gardens includes wonderful settings like this one at the Japanese Garden. I have been setting up a portable table in the shade of the Japanese house verandah to work while looking over the water and gardens. It is a wonderful place to engage with visitors to the gardens, who love to ask what I am doing and how. At this time of year the afternoon sun casts a wonderful golden glow through the foliage. Magical.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April Diversity in the Gardens

It's one month since I had a guided walk with Ray Steward around the Australian Plant Communities Area of the Mt.Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. I retraced the same walk this week observing many changes in flowering, seed and fruit production. In some areas a waft of perfume sent me hunting for the tree in fruit or flower that was responsible. It is a wonderfully diverse garden, well worth the walk. During my residency at the gardens I am developing works that reflect on the seasonal changes and diversity.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Artist as Collector

I have been picking up things that caught my eye and putting them in my pocket since I was a child. My focus now is on a diversity of natural elements I find outdoors and an expanding seed saving collection. What appear to be the most simple of elements can be amazingly intricate when viewed in detail. I love the patterns, textures, structures and forms, the sheer diversity and adaptability of nature to environmental surrounds. Each piece has a story too, the place where it was found or the people who have given them to me. I have without intention enlisted the help of others to collect findings for me. My husband brings in snake skins he comes across when mowing and informs me of large fungi sprouts in the neighbourhood; friends have passed on insect cocoons and I was once offered a dunnit skull from west Quilpie. In a way I feel my art practice is doing its job, if people are encouraged to look more closely at the world around them, the web of life we are all part of.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


'Pollination - Silvereye and Rattlesnake Bean',Nicola Moss.©2009. Acrylic on canvas. 60x60cm.
I have been working on a series of paintings looking at the relationship between plants and animals in the act of pollination. For many plants, flowers play the role of the 'lure' to encourage pollination. Birds, bees and other insects are attracted to flowers through their shape, colour and perfume. The painting above was inspired when I saw a small Silvereye bird on the Rattlesnake climbing beans in the vegie garden. It worked its way around the new bean flowers probing with its beak.

Garden Harvest

My busy schedule of work at the moment has meant the vegie garden at home has been sadly neglected. Thankfully we planted a lot of perennials that carry on growing with a minimum of attention. With all the wonderful rain this season, there has been a great harvest of pumpkins, passion fruit and paw paw. These will take care of soup and dessert, with plenty left over to share.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Burleigh Knoll Conservation Park

Focus continues on finishing works for my upcoming solo exhibition Greenbelt, opening on the 22nd May at Doggett Street Studio. The exhibition works are developing from an ongoing research project of the same name.

As part of my Greenbelt research project I am visiting conservation areas, reserves and parks on the Gold Coast. If you look at a street directory and notice the little patches of green sometimes surrounded by suburbia, this is what you may find there. Today I was at Burleigh Knoll Conservation Park, meeting as part of Geckos' walks with wildlife. The conservation park is surrounded by suburban homes and until you enter the small gate, I really had no idea what I might find. It was an instant transformation to closed canopy forest with pockets of paperbarks, corkwood trees and towering scribbly gums. The luminous white bark of the scribbly gums was stunning and visually dominated the area with wide spreading crowns as pictured above. I was transported to another place, sounds of traffic faded, as bird calls took over. There were white cockatoos, galahs and rosellas, the crows and several smaller bird species. Six varieties of butterfly were seen and countless spiders and their webs encountered. It is a wonderful pocket of forest habitat, I look forward to visiting many more of these areas.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Gift of a Tree

We received several trees as house warming gifts; the Brachychiton rupestris above is one of a pair received as a gift from our new neighbours, Ann and Ernie Richardson. Each year when I prune back the surrounding Lomandra I think of the day Ann and Ernie gave the trees. These beautiful bottle trees have grown fat in the trunk and more sculptural in the crown each year. Tree planting with family and friends is a wonderful way of thinking about the people you love. Each year when we harvest oranges from the potted trees gifted by grandma, then make a cake or some marmalade with the fruit, we think of her. There is the lemon tree planted by mum and dad, the olive trees gifted by friends, and Phil's Frangipani Forest gifted by family. There are great stories associated with these plants, the continuum of seasonal change triggers memories and over years the associated stories grow.

The painting below is of the Brachychiton rupestris foliage. Viewed as though looking directly down on the crown of the tree, I was fascinated by the pattern of leaves and crown structure.
'Brachychiton rupestris', Nicola Moss.©2005, acrylic on canvas.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Question of Balance.

'Life Lines - Tie a Yellow Ribbon' 2009, acrylic and ink on canvas.

I am busy working on pieces for my upcoming exhibition, Greenbelt, opening in May. Having spent several months researching, developing ideas and refining concepts, time to complete the physical works is growing short. An intense period of activity is underway to realise the culmination of observations and ideas.

Greenbelt observes place and change in the Gold Coast City, Australia's most biodiverse city and an area experiencing rapid population growth. This exhibition is the first presentation of works developing from a research project looking at the role that people play in shaping habitat. Works explore competition between conservation and development..... where do we find a balance?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why I Love Trees

Magnificent century old forms, fruit laden branches, lichen speckled bark, fresh Spring growth, perfumed flowers, animal habitat....there are many reasons why I love trees.
Plants form the 'foundation of life' providing food, oxygen, shelter and shade, materials for heating, clothing and building, medicine, paper and more. For me trees symbolise the continuum of life and the connectedness of life. Trees can be seen as landmarks in the landscape, we may have memories of childhood trees or feel warmed by each years growth of seedlings we planted.

What do you love about trees?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Sense of Place

I spent some time exploring this open, grassed slope area above the lake at the Botanic Gardens. I was initially drawn to the large white and sometimes lemon yellow cockatoo feathers scattered throughout the grass below large spotted and grey gums. There were many feathers, but I didn't see the birds; at home cockatoos visit quite early in the morning. When I revisited each morning it seemed like fresh feather droppings were strewn in the grass. I began to think to myself of this place as 'Cockatoo Grounds'. Although I hadn't seen them, I knew they had been there. This place has many stories to tell, the Grey Gum trunks are heavily marked with scratches, I am yet to find out what clawed animal is marking this tree species in particular. Observing the connected layers of life that exist in a place, interpreting the connections - this is what inspires my artwork.

Pattern and Structure

The variety of structure and pattern in tree forms is wonderful. Some caught my eye because of the symmetrical nature of branches departing the trunk. In other species it was the silhouette pattern created against the sky from leaf and branch arrangements. There are many species I have only had a quick look at so far, I look forward to spending more time observing the diversity.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Beginnings of Work

Works on paper are starting to develop from my first week in residence at the Botanic gardens at Mt.Coot-tha. Mark-making was inspired by the various textures of vegetation I observed. Ink, acrylic, charcoal and gesso were layered using twigs, leaves and brushes to create a series exploring diversity within the Australian Plant Communities.

Fungi Fascination

Nicola Moss.©2009
After staring skywards at the amazing canopies of various trees, I turned my attention earthward to the wonderful debris of leaf litter below. Amongst the fallen leaves an occassional fungus could be found. I am fascinated by these plants, the intricate patterns that often covers their forms appears quite primordial in structure.
The painting below was inspired by a pattern of 'constellation' like marks that were present on the domed top of an agaricus, large flat-topped mushroom like fungi that sprouted in my garden.

'Agaricus 2' 2008, acrylic and ink on canvas.