Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Diamonds in my eyes

Nicola Moss, 'Diamonds in my eyes'. (Detail) Acrylic on canvas. ©2010.

I have been working on this painting, trying to capture some of the features I find incredibly beautiful in stately mature trees. It is one of several recent works developed with the intention of reflecting or attributing a sense of value to the subject, the subject being plants, and more specifically native flora.

Titles for works come from many ideas and experiences. When I started thinking about concepts for my upcoming exhibition 'Plant-Life', one thought was how to represent plants in a way that reflected a sense that they are valuable. I thought about what is considered valuable today, some images of advertising in glossy magazines and marketing of 'desirable' or must have items came to mind. Could stately trees be the bling of the future? Would that be a good or a bad thing?

Thinking of trees in terms of diamonds brought back memories of my first job after leaving school. I worked in a large family run jewellers upstairs in Bourke Street, Melbourne. With around thirty staff it wasn't your everyday chain store type jeweller. I can still recall my amazement at the volume of jewellery sold. Were diamonds really rare? I am drawing a large loop of thoughts here, but diamonds are carbon compressed over millennium. I guess I'm more a tree person these days.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Snow Wood - Pararchidendron pruinosum

Flowers forming in September.

Full bloom in October.

Seed capsules in December.
I will be heading to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt.Coot-tha next week for installation of an extension of the bandstand mosaic, made in collaboration with mosaicist Emma Boys. Thoughts of the gardens and walks in the Australian Plant Communities reminded me of some of my favourite plants there. One of them is Snow Wood Pararchidendron pruinosum, a member of the mimosaceae family, you may see some resemblance in the flower and seed pod to Wattle (Acacia). Early in the year I noticed Snow Wood had an interestingly textured dark bark. My full attention was caught when flowers began forming in clusters on the ends of branches. By October one specimen was smothered in cream and golden yellow fluffy spheres up to 2cm in diameter. It's quite a sight and with bright green leaves, I thought of Australian colours green and gold. Two month later seed pods had formed into golden twirls. I am very much looking forward to a walk around the gardens next week, a bit like visiting old friends.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Creek Crew - Redlands

Hilliards Creek.

Head of a large eel, Hilliards Creek.

Redlands Bushcare Creek Crew visited three sites along Hilliards Creek this month to carry out water quality monitoring. The usual water quality indicators such as pH, conductivity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, temperature and salinity were recorded at each site. Aquatic species, weather, rainfall and water flow conditions were also noted. We were joined on the day by Katrina from Redland City Councils waterways team. Apart from collecting water samples for nutrient testing, Katrina answered many questions about Redlands creeks, monitoring activities and the Healthy Waterways Program. I have to say I was very impressed with the non buck-passing attitude displayed in response to current report card results. It was obvious that monitoring records were being translated to action in the field, recognising problem areas and developing strategies to improve water quality. Thanks Katrina for your knowledgeable answers.
At Fellmonger Park, our last site for the morning, some fishers were attracting schools of small and medium sized fish with torn bread. A large eel surfaced to check it out as well.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Creek Crew - Redlands

Water dragon.

A section of Coolnwynpin creek at Indigiscapes.

Coolnwynpin creek.

Last month I joined the Creek Crew bushcare volunteers to participate in water quality monitoring at Tingalpa and Coolnwynpin creeks. We were joined by Redlands staff members Danielle and Ruth for additional activities of nutrient level testing and Macroinvertebrate identification at Indigiscapes. It was interesting to see the areas again after a couple of months, vegetation still appeared lush with continuing rains in Autumn. I was looking forward to the 'water bug' identification with Ruth and wasn't disappointed. It's amazing how much life is going on around us, unseen until you get a scoop net and magnifying glass to check some of it out. We received some excellent identification booklets for reference and the shared knowledge of staff at the environmental education unit. We scooped away and came up with water mites, various water crawlers, exotic mosquito fish and one native Firetail gudgeon fish. Scientists consider waterbugs an excellent bioindicator of water health. Waterbugs vary in their sensitivity to changes in their environment. Some species can survive as water quality deteriorates others are more sensitive and cannot. I started thinking of this as the canary test for waterways.
Thanks to Kylie, Danielle and Ruth for an interesting morning.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Joining dots .....

Nicola Moss, 'No Return Address - Migration to South-east Queensland'. Acrylic on canvas. ©2010. Photography by Carl Warner.
I have been thinking about the process of how my artworks develop and find it is often a case of joining dots. I spend time visiting sites, observing environments and the multitude of species that make them up. On some outings I join bushcare groups and environmental education staff who each have a wealth of knowledge and experience. I listen to the news, research, google and interact in conversations of everyday life. Each of these provides a mass of stimulus, information, data, opinions to be stored and sifted through, in my head, at times subconsciously, until an idea of connected thoughts forms.
'No Return Address - Migration to South-east Queensland' began with a visit to Egret Colony Wetlands at Victoria Point. Amongst the lush vegetation I saw one Egret, the area was dominated by Australian White Ibis. A month later at Bushcare Birders a volunteer was discussing migration of ibis from out west to the coast each year. In recent times some ibis have taken up permanent residence on the coast, not returning west. With much recent discussion and debate in the media about population growth and migration to South-east Queensland, I saw some interesting connections, a metaphor perhaps.