Friday, December 24, 2010

Art Trail at Indigiscapes - Redlands


These are a few more images of the 'art trail' at Redlands Indigiscapes Centre. Indigiscapes will be closed between Christmas and early January; artwork panels will be re-installed till the end of January.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Silhouettes of Redlands at Indigiscapes

I've always liked the idea of taking art beyond or outside of a traditional gallery when possible. I enjoy gallery exhibitions a lot, but the opportunity of engaging ideas and experiences with a wider audience than would perhaps visit galleries has appeal for me. So I was delighted when Redlands Indigiscapes Centre asked if I would be interested to display reproductions of paintings from my recent 'Plant-life' exhibition in the landscape of the bush trails surrounding the environment centre.

I liked the idea of seeing how the images would sit within a natural environment and it seemed so appropriate given many of the original works are inspired by settings like this and the work of bushcare volunteers in them.

The Silhouettes of Redlands artist's walk is on display from December 2010 to January 2011, with an accompanying guide and statements about each artwork. If you have an opportunity to take a walk in the trails over the next couple of months, Redlands Indigiscapes Centre is located at 17 Runnymeade Road, Capalaba.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

thoughtful..

A friend emailed me this sonnet today, and the more I read it, the more I like it; so I thought I would share it with you.

Thank you Susan N.

Monday, November 22, 2010

In the studio

I'll be focused on painting for a while, the March deadline for my next solo show doesn't seem so far away. But I'll continue to post updates of exhibition openings as they come along.

Happy Painting!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Taking a break

I've decided to take a break from blogging for a while. This blog started with my residency at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt.Coot-tha last year. As a way of recording my observations and to publish a book about the experience. This year I recorded site visits in Redlands City as part of research for my exhibition 'Plant-Life' at Redland Art Gallery. I have enjoyed very much the interaction with readers and comments in response to posts. Thank you all for taking time to visit and leaving your thoughts, it's been wonderful to hear from you.

In the meantime, if you'd like to stay in touch I have a mailing list on my website, with newsletters and exhibition invitations sent out a few times each year.

Thank you,
Nicola.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Seed collection - North Stradbroke Island

Coastal sand dune habitat.

Pandanus.

Brown Lake.



There are days when I love my job and last Thursday was one of those. I joined the Redlands Bushcare Seed Collection group on an outing to North Stradbroke Island. We caught the ferry from Cleveland, with blue skies and brilliant sunshine, heading through Moreton Bay Marine Park. During the crossing the ferry slowed to allow a small whale to pass by.
We started our seed collection walk along the Eastern coast of the Island with surf from the South Pacific Ocean pounding onto pale sand, not hard to enjoy. Then over the dunes edge to find a wide variety of coastal plants, many in seed, and collection began. Vegetation gradually increased in scale as we moved away from the waterline. From ground covers and sedges, to gnarled bushes and then further on huge Pandanus trees. The Queensland plant book I have describes Pandanus as a small tree to 5metres.
We then headed on to Brown Lake, more seed collecting, some lunch and a stroll around part of the beautiful lake edge, before heading home on the ferry. There's so much to see on North Stradbroke, I'll need to plan some return trips for further exploring.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Shanghai Garden 2

The Bonsai Gardens at Shanghai's Botanical Gardens.


Yu Yuan Garden.

A street outside Yu Yuan Garden.

In the French Concession.
We visited the Botanical Gardens at Shanghai and were amazed by the Bonsai Gardens area. Hundreds of bonsai were displayed in large garden rooms that continued on and on, and when we thought we'd seen it all we spotted the 'nursery' area where hundreds more bonsai were kept on raised shelves. I can only imagine the cumulative years of growth (and labour) in all these plants.
We also visited Yu Yuan garden, founded in 1559, it now sits surrounded by bustling, jam packed, hole in the wall, tourist markets. It's a bit of a labyrinth just to find the entry for the gardens, but once within the old tile-topped walls, the gardens form a sanctuary of sorts. Still crowded, but in a far more serene way. The gardens are large with many garden rooms, various buildings, ponds and grotto lookouts. I enjoyed these gardens a lot, so much to take in. Finally a day spent wandering streets of the French Concession, where I watched some workers on bamboo ladders installing more cable.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shanghai Garden





I've been in Shanghai for the last week, taking in sights (smells and sounds) of this interesting city full of contrasts. I was fascinated by the rope wrapped tree trunks and bamboo supports, evident on most street trees and large specimens in parks. Bamboo groves strapped horizontally with more bamboo, clipped hedges and colourful potted arrangements in median strips adding 'green' to busy streets.
I visited Yu Yuan Garden established in 1559; and Shanghai's Botanical Gardens, more on these shortly. I'm not sure what I expected before arriving in Shanghai, but one surprise was walking down a tourist cafe eatery strip in the suburbs, to find amongst the neon signs, menu boards and chinese lanterns, large specimens of exquisite potted bonsai.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New works on show in Sydney

Nicola Moss, 'Searching for Sanctuary'. Synthetic polymer on paper cut. Archival framing.©2010.
'Searching for Sanctuary' is one of my recent works currently on show at Fellia Melas Gallery in Sydney. Also known as Woollahra Times Art, the recently renovated gallery now has additional space upstairs. I showed works with Fellia several years ago and am delighted to do so again.
If you have an opportunity while in Sydney, take a look at 2 Moncur Street.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Art on the Gold Coast

I headed down the coast today with fellow artist Helena Lloyd for an afternoon of gallery viewing, with first stop at the Gold Coast City Art Gallery. Here we viewed the 27th Gold Coast International Ceramic Art Award, a wonderful diverse selection of works utilising ceramic in many forms and techniques. My favourite work was 'Visceral tableau 3' by Leo Neuhofer, a pink and grey work that immediately made me think of internal organs and guts, charming I know, but in a rather beautiful way. John Rigby's 'Bushtucker Toyota Dreaming' was expressive and fun, a mud splattered 4WD complete with kangaroo tied to the roof rack. I also liked the enigmatic form of Susan Robey's work 'Untitled (cone head pair)' a work with beautiful, subtle quality of surface and form. Peter Cooley's 'Tree with busted guts and galahs' won the overall award.

Down stairs we viewed a collection of botanical prints focused on specimens collected on the east coast of Australia during James Cook's first Pacific voyage in 1768. The skill of artist and engraver can be seen in the minute details captured in the prints.

Then the surprise, an installation by Linelle Stepto titled 'Colonise'. A number of floral 'bouquet' type arrangements are fixed to the walls, they appeared brown like dried arrangements, but closer inspection reveals leather and fur like material. The sculptural works are made using the skins of feral animals such as cane toad and feral cat. I found the cane toad skin visually interesting with varied patterns and grain working in the leaf and flower forms of the sculptures. Linelle's statements reads of a reference on one level to the colonisation of native species by introduced species, and on another to the dangers of globalisation and the loss of the unique and the local. It is certainly a unique choice of material and at the same time for me presented a distinctly Australian quality.

We finished off the afternoon at Anthea Polson Gallery, with a wide range of contemporary art on show.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Developing a visual language

Nicola Moss, 'In the palm of your hand'. (in progress) Acrylic and pigmented ink on linen. ©2010.

My latest work in progress, above, has been challenging, mainly due to the tone of palette I have chosen to work with. The lightness of this work developed from ideas about microcosm, facets of light and diamonds, a shimmer of value? A lot of varied thoughts at the moment, still formulating in my head. But what I am noticing is the development of my personal visual language in response to place. I think visual response is very personal, perhaps like our handwriting, each with our unique quirks and style. These patterns and marks are a response to the experiences I have in environments; the engagement of my senses and interpretation of them. I'm not sure this language is about hearing or reading though, for me it's more about feeling.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Creek Crew - Redlands


I joined the Redlands Bushcare Creek Crew group today for water monitoring activities at Tingalpa and Coolnwynpin creeks. We also had some time at Indigiscapes for macro invertebrate identification, which was lots of fun, (if you like looking at tiny water bugs). We were joined by Janine from South-east Queensland Waterways, who pointed out some creatures in our netted samples, and helped us learn a bit more about the interesting creatures that call these creeks home.
Most interesting for me was seeing some Caddisfly, which Janine explained we may spot if we watched to see if any small twigs moved of their own accord, and they did, once we had our eye in we found a few of them. These animals make their home in a piece of twig or by sticking tiny stones to their outside, building a home around them which they move around as they go. They are sludge eaters and are very sensitive to water quality. Finding them today gives an indication that water conditions must be fairly good.
We also saw water mites of various sizes (they look like black, green or red specks) moving in galaxy like orbits of the water tray; red worms, little unidentified fish and a couple of water spiders.

Thanks to Kylie and Janine for sharing your knowledge with us today.

Friday, October 1, 2010

More work in progress

Nicola Moss, 'Dreaming of the future and forests to be'. (Detail) Acrylic on canvas. ©2010.

A fairly solid week of painting is starting to bring ideas together on canvas. This is another work inspired by a recent trip to Turtle Swamp Wetlands on Russell Island, Redlands. This time the shoulder high Banksia 'forest' on the edge of the heath; it really captured my imagination.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seed Collection - Kidd Street Conservation Reserve

Kidd Street Reserve, Redland Bay

Flowering Xanthorrhoea sp., Grass Tree

Lomandra sp. flower

Petrophile canescens, Conesticks

Comb Fern



Today I joined the Redland Bushcare Seed Collection group on a visit to Kidd Street Conservation Reserve. The spectacular sight of flowering Xanthorrhoea (grass trees) was the first thing I noticed heading to the reserve entrance. Kidd Street Reserve is a fairly recent acquisition for Redland City and a site not previously visited by the seed collection group. Timing was ideal for a wonderful display of many wildflowers and plenty of ripe seed for collection.

Areas varied on our walk from towering blackbutt and dense grass trees, to casuarina groves with little sundews and ferns dotting the understory. Patches of gnarled banksia were in bloom with luminous golden orange flowers and a few conestick plants were spotted. I love the foliage form of these plants, and being of the Proteaceae family, this liking re-enforces my aesthetic inclination towards plants of this family.
It was a very enjoyable morning of bushwalking, learning a little more about native flora, watching a Whistling Kite circling overhead and for the Indigiscapes team, identification of a couple of species not on the current plant list for the area.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Work in progress

Nicola Moss, 'Moonlit wanderings of a jewelled trail'. (Detail) Acrylic on canvas. ©2010.
I have been working on a couple of paintings in response to a recent seed collection outing to Russell Island, Redlands. I would like to capture the sense of overwhelming life exuberance I felt when amongst the glorious profusion of coastal heath at Turtle Swamp Wetlands. This 'trail' felt very much like a treasure trove, vegetation densely layered in a multitude of texture, form , flower and colour, enclosed us once we entered the open heath, like another world. I think I could spend the next six months at this site alone and not run out of fresh inspiration. At the moment one days walk is what I have to work with, memories of sensations experienced, the touch of textures, the feeling of steps into an unknown and the visual overload. Capturing senses in the layers of paint is the challenge of this piece.
This is the canvas featured in my earlier post ...starting.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

IN the Outdoors

I came across the Bundanon Trust blog today and on reading found a couple of recent posts that resonated with me.

'How's it going/How did you get here?' speaks of how we travel through landscape and the influence this has on our relationship to it. The example of contrasting experience one could encounter if driving in a vehicle compared to walking is discussed. This post made me think about another relationship - the one between time (the luxury of today) and money. The choices of activity we make tend to impact in favour of one or the other of these. (This subject could fill a post on it's own, so I will move on.)

My art practice has evolved through direct observation of environments. This began in my own garden, in it's early years, when I spent a lot of time outdoors, planting, digging, mulching; to establish the garden. It was a time for seeing, seasonal changes, relationships, new growth, and over the years an increasing number of species making their home either temporarily, seasonally or permanently.

From this base I have explored local Gold Coast conservation areas; spent an absorbed year in the Australian Plant Communities of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt.Coot-tha, and most recently nine months visiting and researching conservation areas in Redland City. For me it is only by being outdoors, in these environments, that I can gain a full experience of the place. And then it is only with repeated visits that I can begin to feel any depth of experience achieved.
In what would seem a contradiction to this, I found one advantage of visiting areas in Redlands I hadn't been to before, was being able to see these areas with 'fresh eyes'. I didn't have pre-conceived ideas about what I would find, or what to expect.

My research in Redlands will continue, I still have many areas to visit, as yet unseen. ( It was a bit ambitious of me to think I could visit all the green patches before my last exhibition.) I am aware of a feeling of sentiment towards environments in Redlands, where I have spent time, or towards the species that characterise them. How did this sense of relationship form? What does it mean?

This brings me to the second post I read titled 'Heart-spaces: sentiment and emotion', which speaks of bringing reason and emotion, passion and cold logic, intuition and facts together in our response to, and engagement with, ecosystems and place. Towards the end of the post a research project by Ross Gibson is discussed, I quote...'to produce a "national map of the emotional intensities lodged in Australian landscapes, regions and cities"..
What a wonderful thought, the idea of emotional intensities lodged in Australian landscapes. I am inclined to think that Redlands would be a hot spot on any "sentimental mapping network". I found a strong sense of pride, care and knowledge amongst residents and bushcare volunteers in Redlands. Witnessing this engagement with environment is in part what made my experience of Redlands so rewarding.

Is there a landscape or place that evokes emotional intensity for you?

Both Bundanon Trust blog posts discussed above are by Kickknees, you can read them in full here.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Swell Sculpture Festival 2010

Mimi Dennett 'The Picnic is Over'

Chi Phan 'Did you lose your way?'

Pamela Lee Brenner 'Step Lightly'

Shelly Kelly 'RedDer'


I headed down to Pacific Parade, Currumbin Beach today, with my family to check out the 2010 Swell Sculpture Festival. As I have found in previous years, there is a wonderful mix of sculpture works, some funny and light hearted, others with a message. A small selection of images above from the 56 works selected for exhibition.

I was drawn to Mimi Dennett's work, The Picnic is Over. Her statement in the festival program reads - " A giant stuffed picnic blanket fish skeleton swimming in a perspex tank. The remains of our feeding frenzy on the seemingly never ending fish stocks. No longer the intact shark of Damien Hirsts's vision, the fish in the tank has become a skeleton. Proof that the picnic is over. Humanity has been on one long, joyous, apocalyptic picnic." The choice of materials, referencing of contemporary art and ecological theme appealed to me.

Swell Sculpture Festival ends tommorrow, 19th September, if you have a chance to visit, it's well worth checking out.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Drawing workshop at Point Halloran - Redlands

Last week I gave a second drawing workshop at Point Halloran Conservation Area, as part of the community engagement activities associated with my exhibition at Redland Art Gallery. As we headed out from the carpark to walk the loop track, a koala was pointed out to us in a tree near the edge. I don't have a lot of experience with koala spotting, but this one looked a good size. This is only the second koala I have seen in Redlands during many outings. Unfortunately koala numbers have been declining over the past decade.

The weather was ideal for an outdoor workshop, after the 'treasure-hunt' walk we set up in a sheltered clearing to have fun with rubbings, print transfer, texture and surface treatments. It was an enjoyable afternoon, thanks to all the participants who got stuck into the spirit of experimenting.

Monday, September 6, 2010

'Plant-Life' now on show at SALT Contemporary Art Gallery

Nicola Moss, 'Cloaked pollinator'. Acrylic on canvas. 60 x 60cm. ©2010.

I was quite excited when Fiona, director of SALT Contemporary Art Gallery, in Queenscliff, Victoria, asked me if I would like to show the remaining works from my Plant-Life exhibition at the gallery in September. I felt the opportunity of exhibiting part of the series of recent paintings together again was great. Works will be on show for the next couple of weeks, if you are in Victoria and feel like a visit to the lovely bayside town of Queenscliff.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The weather project - artist collaboration

Nicola Moss, Weather Relations - Blow dry. Fujifilm photographs and glassine paper cut. 61 x 60cm. ©2010.

I recently completed works for an upcoming group exhibition - Nice Day! - that will be on show at Logan Art Gallery in early 2011. The exhibition has developed from a project based on weather and our day to day interaction with it. The weather project began in 2008 with a collaborative observation of weather between artists Susan Buret, Uta Heidelauf, Candice Herne and myself; and continues with artists Sandra Landolt and Jen Conde joining the group.

I have found the process of working on a group/collaborative project very interesting. Each artist has responded to the subject of weather in a personal way that captures their unique style of working and interests, while at the same time stretching their practice. The weather project appealed to me because I felt, at its most basic level, observing weather is a way people relate to nature, and or their surrounding environment. I have found during conversation, observation of weather is something often occurring in the subconscious part of our minds. It is there around us always, we have opinions about it even when we may not have consciously considered it.

My works bring together photographic images of skies with seasonal occurrence in flora and everyday activity. Details of plant, clothes line and lawn mower are cut as silhouettes in broad sky and grass palettes. For me these connections signify weather of a particular season, and not just the traditional spring, summer, autumn, winter. There are shorter, less obvious seasons like the few weeks in autumn when air is still warm but the daylight shortening, a time when some migrating birds head north and those from further south arrive.

Nice Day! Opens at Logan Art Gallery on Wednesday 12th January and continues to Saturday 19th February 2011. I look forward to seeing you at this exciting show if you can make it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seed Collection - Russell Island Redlands

Cicada shells at Whistling Kite Wetlands.

Casuarina Forest at Turtle Swamp Wetlands.

Wildflowers of the Coastal Heath, Turtle Swamp Wetlands.

Banksia forest, Turtle Swamp Wetlands.

Coral Fern, Turtle Swamp Wetlands.
The last couple of Redlands Bushcare outings I planned to join were rained off, but last week was fine if a little windy, and the Bushcare Seed Collection outing to Russell Island was on. I was excited about visiting another bay island I hadn't been to before. Russell Island is about one hours barge trip from Redland Bay, taking in views of Macleay, Lamb, Karragarra and Pannikin Islands on the way.
Once on Russell Island we started with a visit to Whistling Kite Wetlands, seeing various wildflowers, grass trees, banksia seedlings and a lot of bandicoot activity (holes in the ground). The stand out sighting here, for me, were the 'armies' of cicada shells clinging to the base of most trees in the area we visited. Many of the trees were charred black from fire, highlighting the golden-ochre casings.
We then headed on to Turtle Swamp Wetlands for a longer walk through various habitats that make up the Coastal Heath. I found this site quite amazing, with a stunning diversity of vegetation and the timing just right for a wonderful display of Spring wildflowers. We moved through casuarina forest with grass ground cover to more open heath with Boronia and many other wildflowers in full bloom. I have to mention the 'trail blazing' efforts of Travis and Marti up front who made the going a bit easier for the rest of us through the heath. The wildflowers were up to my armpits, but the effort was well and truly worth while. Through the wildflowers we moved into an area of Banksia 'forest', still low in height but thick with distinctive leaves and seed cones dominating the heath, then back into more sheltered casuaria groves. It's really quite special to be able to visit areas like this, even if just for a morning. These wetlands are not areas I could explore on my own, being guided during the Redlands bushcare outings is fortunate I think.
Back to the van where we made a short trip down the road to collect seed filled Banksia cones and then back to the jetty for some lunch before enjoying a scenic barge trip back to the mainland.
I found a lot of inspiration on this trip, so much diversity and unusual species. Special thanks to the Redlands Indigiscapes Bushcare Education team for guiding us on the day, it was a great outing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Still in the garden

Three weeks into August and I've realised there is more than a month's worth of weeds to tackle in my garden, but I'm still happy to see each area gradually being transformed. It's been raining again today, very unseasonal, but most welcome (makes the weeds easier to pull out), and gives me a legitimate reason for donning my new pink welly boots, Love them!

I visited the open garden of Jan and Denis (fellow members of TSGS) on the weekend. They are both passionate and very knowledgeable about Australian native plants and have created an amazing garden on a rocky, low rainfall site. Acacias, grevillea, eremophila, paper daisy and many other species were in flower, attracting a wide variety of birds. I think their garden exemplifies the idea of planting species to suit your conditions, with stunning results. The vegetable garden is also a triumph, filled with interesting varieties of lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, leek, cauliflower, tatsoi and mizuna. I couldn't resist buying a few trees for home, it's been a couple of years since I planted anything major in the garden, so this was fun. I chose a Brachychiton bidwillii, a Long-leaved tuckeroo, a Diploglottis variety and an Acacia.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Plant-Life exhibition finishes this week

Sunday 15th August is the final day Plant-Life will be on show at Redland Art Gallery, Cleveland. The exhibition has been a most wonderful experience. Every aspect of the exhibition has been handled with the utmost professionalism, which from an artists perspective is simply fantastic. I have enjoyed many discussions with local residents during the show, finding this interaction and engagement with ideas in the works one of the most rewarding aspects.

I haven't had much time yet to consider how this project will continue in the future, there are many sites still to be visited in Redlands, with an ongoing source of inspiration. Something to think about next week.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Melbourne Art Fair 2010

Last week I headed to Melbourne to check out the Art Fair at the Royal Exhibition Building. I met up with my friend and fellow artist Susan Buret for what turned out to be a full day of art viewing. A weighty catalogue available on entry to the show gave an indication of the volume of art we were about to see. I found it very interesting to look at the way various galleries handled showing art in their booth spaces. Some galleries opted for solo artist shows, such as Gemma Smith at Sarah Cottier Gallery. This gave a very coherant apperance, but also put all the eggs in one basket so to speak. Gemma's transparent prism sculptures sparkled vibrant colour and looked amazing. Many galleries opted for a salon style hang, with some works from each of their represented artists. This worked in some cases better than others. In between were gallery spaces that featured three or four artists. Dianne Tanzer Gallery and Projects was in my eyes the stand out show at the fair. They featured works by Juan Ford, Charles Robb and Natalie Ryan. Space was allocated sufficiently to allow each artists work to shine and at the same time present a polished coherant show. Natalie Ryans floor sculpture featuring drought ravaged calves was particularly poingant.
Brisbane galleries were well represented at the art fair this year including - Bruce Heiser Gallery, Edwina Corlette Gallery, Fireworks Gallery, Jan Murphy Gallery and Ryan Renshaw Gallery.

I saw some works in the flesh by Sally Smart at Greenaway Art Gallery and Linde Ivimey at Martin Browne Fine Art which I loved. The Art Fair had it all, great, good, average and ..... overall I had a great day and enjoyed the show a lot. Thanks for your company Susan.

Back in the garden

Yesterday afternoon I was back in the garden catching up on pruning and mulching. The pomegranate tree needed a good prune, removing mummified fruit and some die back on branches, trimming thorns so I can pick fruit without being jabbed. Then onto the peach trees, which I was drastic with, removing about 80% in height. I planted two tropical low chill varieties which have grown abundant crops of superbly sweet fruit over the years. I wish I had realised how large these trees like to grow though and bought them on dwarfing root stock instead. Trying to net or bag fruit on these trees against fruit fly is possible but much easier if the branches remain within reasonable reach. So the trees are now back to chest height and I look forward to a small but edible crop. In the vegie garden I picked the first savoy cabbage for this season, just love the rippled leaves of this variety. Cooked last night as a braise with bacon, garlic, rosemary and fresh snap peas, it certainly tasted good.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Co-existence

Nicola Moss, Co-existence. Synthetic polymer on paper cut. 110 x 260cm approx. ©2010.

I popped into Redland Art Gallery today to take some photographs of the Plant-Life exhibition. I'd had the paper cut installation work Co-existence on my studio wall at home for a few weeks before the exhibition opened. It was somewhere I could position the various layers and decide on the layout. Unfortunately the wall space available for this set out was paint splattered and pin holed, making the taking of reasonable photos of the work impossible.

Co-existence reflects on many visits to conservation areas in Redlands, the striking features of vegetation and an overall sense of the deeply layered nature of these places. On several walks I have found that with each step a fresh panorama of the landscape appears, as some elements become concealed others are revealed. Outings with Redlands Bushcare Birders brought up discussion on the idea of ecological niche, where many different species of bird can occupy the same geographical space because they feed on different plants and insects. My work responds on several levels to these layered connections within environments.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In the garden

It felt so good to finally be out in the garden, for a whole day, for the first time in ages. Work has been great, amazing projects and opportunities that have challenged, enriched and developed my art practice over the past year. The one downside has been giving up most of my time in the garden. So with our garden hosting the Tamborine Sustainable Gardeners Society monthly meeting at the end of August, I have given myself one month to catch up on all the pruning, weeding, mulching, transplanting, sowing.....that hasn't been done for the past 12 months, eeek!
Or I will simply thank Tom very much for his talk last month on edible weeds and explain that I have the supermarket equivalent of edible weeds in my garden.
I am fairly optomistic that I can bring about a reasonable outcome in a month. Plants have grown very well in the last year, with good rainfall over many months, and although the weeds have grown well too, it doesn't stop the other plants, just makes it a little harder to see them. It's the right time of year too for some major work on reshaping, with cooler weather and many bare branches. First job was the mulberry tree, which was pruned last weekend and has new leaf bud bursting forth now. The peach trees will be next, they are already in blossom, but as long as I get to it this week, I can bag the developing fruit before warmer weather brings the onslaught of fruit fly.

Some time in the vegie garden (above) cleared the last of pumpkin vines, pruned the grape vine and finally removed the last of termite riddled timber compost bins that had passed their best. Sticking seed straight in the ground has been my sole planting technique for most of this year. This has brought me a good crop of delicious sweet sugar snap peas, peppery rocket in abundance, potato crops and lettuce. Cherry tomatoes self seeded themselves, spring onion have grown to the size of leeks and there is an abundance of fresh herbs - coriander, italian parsley and mint. I have realised in the last year that plants will keep growing by themselves whether I am fussing over them or not. The main exception to this is watering, which I restrict to the vegie garden. The fruit trees are established enough to cope for several months without water, and although the crop may be reduced, i still have plenty and some to share. The garden is a mess, but a productive mess, and I can live with that.
I filled a bucket with mandarins, oranges, limes and lemons today, they were hiding amongst the dried asparagus debris which I cut back, composted and mulched, in anticipation of Asparagus season, yum! I do love fresh asparagus, picked fresh it doesn't even need cooking, just eaten straight, so sweet.
So I am guessing you get the idea, I love gardening, especially food gardening, and if I don't answer the phone much next month I'm probably outside having fun in the lovely winter sun.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Canary Test

Nicola Moss, The Canary Test - Levels of Tolerance. Synthetic polymer on canvas. 92 x 102cm. ©2010.
Earlier in the year I was on an outing with the Redlands Bushcare Creek Crew group and took part in an activity of fresh water fish identification. At a site along Hilliards creek we set traps and identified several species of both exotic and native freshwater fish. We received information and identification brochures that listed various species in a range from most sensitive to most tolerant. I thought of this as being a bit like the 'canary test'. Species that could survive in the creek conditions gave an indication of the overall water quality. This work depicts a native Fly-specked Hardyhead fish.