Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Artwork - On the Ground - Identify, collect, propagate.

Nicola Moss, 'On the Ground - Identify, collect, propagate'. (Detail) Acrylic, pigmented ink, graphite, laser print, assorted papers on plywood panels. ©2010.

It's that busy time now, a couple of month out from the deadline for works to be completed for my upcoming solo exhibition at Redland Art Gallery. Visiting conservation sites in Redlands and joining in Bushcare activities has been a great experience and an enormous source for inspiration. I could easily spend a couple of years on this project, and no doubt will continue to work in this area for some time after the exhibition. But working with the time frame I have, artworks for Plant-Life will focus on a few central themes that have developed.
'On the Ground - Identify, collect, propagate', is a work inspired by an outing to Days Road Conservation Area with the Redlands Bushcare Seed Collection group of volunteers and staff. Like many of these areas the landscape at Days Road is densely layered in a connected ecology of diverse species. My attention was drawn closely to the smaller ground-covering native flora of the site and the graphic forms of eucalypt seed pods we were collecting.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fungi and a Butterfly

Images above of just a few of the fungi spotted during the Redland Bushcare Seed Collection outing at Eastern escarpment, Mount Cotton. I love the variety of forms and colour fungi come in, it was great to have some enthusiastic fellow spotters along on the day.
The butterfly, a Dainty Swallowtail (Papilio anactus), was spotted near the top ridge of the escarpment. Special thanks to bushcare officer Travis for identifying the species and sending me some great information.

Eastern Escarpment - creek level

The more challenging route up creek.

Seeds on the trunk of a Sandpaper Fig.

Towering, majestic Tallow wood trees.

(Seed collecting at Mount Cotton Eastern escarpment continued.) I found the environment at creek level quite magical; just a short distance off the road a dense canopy of palms, trees and a lone Blue Quandong enveloped the surrounds of upper Eprapah creek. Fungi and lichen smothered trunks in patches of silver and lime green. Large piles of palm fronds and debris assembled dam like constructions after recent heavy rain. Higher up above the creek banks were Crows nest ferns, native ginger and tree ferns. A stand of magnificent Tallow wood trees in close proximity had a few of us dreaming about the perfect tree house, multi level platforms reaching into the canopy with creek views below. On a more serious note we collected seed from several rainforest species to be propagated. It was a great morning in a wonderful setting.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Seed collection - Eastern Escarpment - Redlands

Leptospermum polygalyfolium - Wild May, Tea-tree.
Seed ready for collection. No more than a quarter of the seed on a plant is collected.

Acacia perangusta - Eprapah Wattle

Hybanthus stellarioides - Orange Spade flower

Tree canopy of the escarpment.
Last week I joined the Redlands Bushcare Seed Collection group at the Eastern escarpment of Mount Cotton, where we walked in some of the highest area within Redlands. We collected seed from several species, spotting many flowering ground covers, fungi, orchids and butterflies along the way. Eprapah wattle was pointed out to me, this is a rare species of acacia found within Redlands city and a few other areas in Queensland. It has an arching crooked branch form which I am going to enjoy painting. There is so much to see on these outings, knowledge is shared amongst volunteers and council staff, making for a great learning experience. On reaching the escarpment heights we headed back to the road and after a steep decent had a look at the rainforest species at creek level. It was amazing to see the change of species evident in a small distance. Check out my next post for images.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wellington Point - Redlands


After some time at Waterloo Bay I headed along to Wellington Point, another place I hadn't visited previously. This narrow strip of headland juts out into Moreton Bay with beautiful views of water and nearby islands. I plan to join a seagrass watch group next month to find out more about the flora and fauna of these coastal waters. This trip I took in the scenery.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Waterloo Bay - Redlands

On the weekend I headed up to Waterloo Bay in Redlands, to take a look at some areas along the cities northern coastline. I have never visited this area before and was pleasantly surprised to find a calm, quiet watery world. I sat for quite some time watching the Welcome Swallows stand on individual rocks in the mud flat area. Every now and then they would dart into flight alternating positions before returning to perch. It was overcast in part of the sky, turning the early morning light a wonderful silvery blue. Areas of mangrove stretched out into the bay along the edge of Queens Esplanade, on the other side of the road suburban homes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Amazing creatures

I noticed this amazing creature in a bottle tree at home this week and had to marvel at its wonderful form. I think it is a Spiny leaf insect chomping away on the leaf. The tree has quite a bit of leaf damage with woven cacoon bundles of dead leaves on the ends of branches, not sure if it's related to this insect though. The very wet season we have been experiencing seems to have created a population boom for many insect species. Lots of butterflies and resulting caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders and lately ticks, everything has its place, but I draw the line at blood suckers.

Not counting...

I am guessing somewhere between one and two thousand, but I really wasn't counting. I am thinking of the piles of tiny cut out paper pieces resulting from my latest artwork and imagining what they might total. Paper cutting is an interesting process, you start with a beautiful large sheet and proceed to cut hundreds of holes, while thinking about positive and negative space, until you have the desired silhouette image. The top photo is a small detail of 'Street Tree' featuring a Brachychiton acerifolous I observed in the centre median strip of a busy Redlands road. The completed work will be on show in my upcoming exhibition, Plant-Life at Redland Art Gallery.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spear Lily - Doryanthes palmeri

Flowering in September.

Seed pods in January.

Seed capsules splitting in February.

I was first attracted to Spear Lily Doryanthes palmeri, by its vivid green sculptural foliage that forms very large clumps of 2 to 3 metre long pointed leaves. In September the plants have a spectacular display of arching flower spikes up to 4 metres with upward cupped groupings of scarlet red flowers which look just spectacular. By January pollinated flowers had formed large swollen pods that began splitting in February to reveal seed.
Doryanthes palmeri is native to South-east Queensland and North-east New South Wales, found in areas of the ranges along peaks and cliffs.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Creek Crew - Redlands

Hilliards Creek Redlands

Hilliards Creek Redlands

The fish trap.

Fly-specked Hardyhead, native freshwater fish.

Today I joined the Creek Crew group at Redlands on their monthly outing to undertake water monitoring and as a bonus this month, catch and identify freshwater fish. We visited three sites along Hilliards Creek; water quality indicators such as pH, conductivity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, temperature and salinity were recorded. Aquatic species, weather, rainfall and water flow conditions were also noted. With heavy rain and flooding in the last month it was interesting to see how the creek banks had held up and results of the water testing.
Each site varied, but overall the creeks looked healthy with lots of dragonfly and damselfly activity. Bull rush and lomandra vegetation has assisted in reducing erosion and stabilised creek banks during recent flooding, with plenty of debris marooned high indicating recent water levels.
For me the highlight of today's trip was the trapping of freshwater fish for identification before being released back to the creek. Three traps were set in different locations of the creek edge, some deep, others floating, each using prawn flavoured dry cat food as bait. After 30 minutes we checked the traps to see what the creek held in the way of freshwater fish. Wow, there were lots. Four varieties of native fish were identified - Empire Gudgeon, Fly-specked Hardyhead, Firetail Gudgeon and Crimson-spotted Rainbow fish, what fabulous names. One exotic variety, Swordtail, was also caught. The main way to identify between native and exotic freshwater fish is to look at the Dorsal fin ( top of the fishes body), native freshwater fish have two dorsal fins while exotic fish have one. I had a great time today, there is so much to learn, but now I have a little more of an idea about the wonderful diversity of life in creeks. Special thanks to bushcare officers Boyd and Kylie for sharing your knowledge so freely, what a great way to learn.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New work

Nicola Moss, ‘Silhouettes of Redlands, Regeneration - After the Fire - Bracken Fern’. Acrylic on stretched 12oz. cotton canvas. 60x60cm. ©2010.

The last week of rain has made site visits to Redlands a little difficult if not impossible. With local flooding and constant days of rain, I have had some quality time to focus on painting works for my upcoming exhibition at Redland Art Gallery. I am making a series of small canvases inspired by the silhouettes of plants I have observed in various conservation areas in Redlands. There are often connections associated with these plants and how they fit into a local ecology. I hope to make a large collection of works that together can be read as a landscape of connected species.