Sunday, October 31, 2010

Seed collection - North Stradbroke Island

Coastal sand dune habitat.


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.