Wednesday, July 28, 2010


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.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Plant-Life opening at Redland Art Gallery

I find creating art a rewarding process of inquiry, challenge and resolution; but one that requires viewers for it's full completion. 'Plant-Life' opened at Redland Art Gallery, Cleveland today; where I enjoyed hearing many responses and interpretations of the works on show.

I would like to sincerely thank Redland City Council and Redland Art Gallery for their support in hosting this exhibition. Special thank you to Emma Bain, Director, and Simone Jones, Exhibitions Officer, for your thorough professionalism and organisation of the exhibition. Thank you to the staff and volunteers of Redland Art Gallery. Thank you also to Renai Grace, Director of Creative Sight, for being guest speaker at the exhibition opening.

Thank you to the many friends, colleagues and patrons who attended the opening today, it was wonderful to see you and hear your thoughts. Your engagement with the works is appreciated greatly.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Plant-Life exhibition catalogue essay by Alison Kubler

Nicola Moss, 'Hollow, but not empty'. Acrylic on canvas. 152 x 122cm. ©2010.
I visited Redland Art Gallery this morning to deliver a large papercut installation that will be shown there as part of my exhibition 'Plant-Life'. I have to say I have never been quite as excited about an exhibition as I am about this one. Walls in the gallery were being given a fresh coat of off-white paint and the feature wall at the gallery desk a soft aqua blue-green to match the colours of my exhibition invitation and catalogue! This level of professionalism and care is not one I have often encountered, making the experience all the more appreciated. I also received a bundle of printed colour catalogues that accompany the exhibition. The exhibition catalogue essay is written by Alison Kubler, who visited my studio a few weeks ago to discuss the exhibition project and works. I wondered after an hours chat, what will a writer make of the conversation and artwork? On reading Alison's opening quote I felt a sense of connection, it so captured a sentiment that inspires me to be outdoors experiencing the natural world.
'Plant-Life' opens at Redland Art Gallery, Cleveland this Sunday, 18th July at 11am and continues to Sunday 15th August. I look forward to seeing you there if you can make it.
Below are the opening paragraphs of the 'Plant-Life' exhibition essay by Alison Kubler; the full essay can be read online here.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.from Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

I recall reading Thoreau as an American literature student at the University of Queensland. The economy and straightforward quality of his prose humbled me then, as it does now. At the time I am not sure I understood the simplicity of his argument but as I age I think I am edging closer. Visiting the studio of artist Nicola Moss I was again reminded of Thoreau. Moss is a passionate environmentalist, whose practice melds something of traditional landscape painting themes with issues of contemporary relevance. Like Thoreau, her style is characterised by an elegant economy of means.

On the day I visited Moss’s studio I happened to read an article discussing author Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, which poses the theory that many contemporary urban children are suffering nature deprivation. Louv argues that many children cannot tell the difference between simple plant and animal species, that an entire generation has become enslaved to technology, and that more worryingly, children are being taught to be wary of the outdoors, for reasons ranging from the litigious to the irrational. While Louv’s argument may not be wholly original in its exhortation that humans must learn to co-exist with nature or perish, it is surely timely. We find ourselves as a society in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis on the brink of serious ecological consequences wrought by our own greed and malfeasance.

July at the APC

It has been several months since my last walk around the Australian Plant Communities area at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt.Coot-tha. I will be walking there next week with fellow members of the Tamborine Sustainable Gardeners Society and thought I would check out what was in flower and seed at the moment. It was a bit like visiting old friends today, very enjoyable.
The bumpy satin ash, which I hoped would be in flower for next weeks walk, is just starting to form large flower balls that hang from the trunk, light streaming through foliage of a Leptospermum madidum looked beautiful, and there was one stunning lilac coloured palm seed tendril in the palm row along the lake edge, wow.
I also dropped in at the Richard Randall studio to say hi to Sophie Munns, this years artist in residence at the gardens. Sophie has a wonderful residency project titled 'Homage to the Seed' celebrating the value of seed in 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity. From the 12 - 18th July, Sophie is conducting a range of activities at the Richard Randall studio including talks, workshops and an amazing display of seeds, plants, postcards and art. You can check out more details on her blog.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The creek edge holds power

Nicola Moss, 'The creek edge holds power'. (Detail) Acrylic and pigmented ink on canvas. ©2010.

I have been bubble wrapping paintings today ready for transport to Redland Art Gallery. It will be exciting to view the works all together, having been developed over several months and stored. 'The creek edge holds power' is a four panel painting inspired by bushcare creek crew outings that take place each month in several locations along Redlands creeks. During my Redlands project I have become increasingly aware of the importance creek environments hold. These are zones of high biodiversity with species adapted for water and land converging. The work carried out by bushcare groups to stabilise banks with vegetation produced impressive results after flooding events earlier this year. Plants were flattened a bit, but came back strongly with new growth, meanwhile bank erosion was reduced, and any run-off averted helping to maintain water quality in the creek. This painting brings together many experiences and memories of place - Tingalpa creek edge at John Fredericks park, invertebrates at Hilliards creek and lush vegetation along Coolnwynpin creek to mention just one. In my eye these are beautiful environments some just a road crossing from large shopping centres or a fence line from suburban backyards. They are places full of connected life and I think power - power to influence the health of far wider reaching ecosystems.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Flourish - Woolloongabba

The Woolloongabba Urban Centre Project where I installed my public artwork 'Flourish' is now open to the public. Centred around the heritage sub station at the end of Logan Road, Woolloongabba, the artwork combines concepts of ebb and flow, motifs of new growth symbolic of an emerging community; and foliage patterns reflecting historical references and plants in this new community park. Sandblasted concrete creates the artwork on a terrace surface in front of the substation, one element has also been incorporated in laser cut seatbacks in the park.
This public art commission for Brisbane City Council was an exciting project to work on, as well as a large and rewarding learning experience. Thank you to The Urban Design team at BCC and Urban Fountains and Furniture for your support during the project.