Monday, August 29, 2011

Bark - Rock - Sand...and so much more

I spent a day working outdoors last week with friends, Donna and Helen. As usual the day was a huge refreshment, it's hard to beat the fresh air, serenades of bird call and shared conversation. Weathered by air and water, textures of the coast are both smooth and rough, filled with life and constantly on the move. There is so much to see, but I find a whole day is easily spent working in one small area, observing details of tide lines, the layers of worn tree structure or tangled arches of mangrove roots. My works on site are usually paper based, trying to capture a feel of the place more so than the view.
I'm already looking forward to the next trip.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Site Lines at Spiro Grace Art Rooms

Nicola Moss, ‘Life on the edge. Acrylic, charcoal frottage and natural ochre on hand cut papers, rice paper and stonehenge paper, 74x170cm archival framed. ©2011.

The past few weeks have just flown by. Yesterday I delivered artworks for my exhibition at Spiro Grace Art Rooms in Spring Hill. I was excited to see the works all framed with beautiful shadow box edges and soft white space around them. A small hiccup with transport was helped out generously by the staff at Chapman and Bailey, Thank you!

Site Lines opens this Friday, 6-8pm, if you are in the Brisbane area and would like to check it out, it would be great to see you there.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Makings of a garden

I recently came across a blog post by friend and fellow artist - Nicola Chatham - about her making of a new permaculture garden, her permaculture studies and lots of things she is learning along the way. It made me feel quite nostalgic about the beginnings of my own vegie garden and orchard. So I thought I'd dig out some old photos and look at how much it's grown over the past eight years.

The very first orchard bed, 2003, and a huge pile of organic mix ( and Georgie, one of my chooks at the time). I layered cane mulch, soil, cane mulch, soil and finally mulch again to make the long raised beds. Then a swale was dug along the top contour edge and holes dug only where the fruit trees were to be planted. Our block was part of a dairy farm once, but had never been ploughed, the ground so full of rock that the removal of one revealed the next underneath, this method of raised beds was a lot easier than digging.

Onto the second bed with ground cover planting between the fruit trees of hundreds of cuttings, divisions and seedlings from my previous garden. The hessian staked up was an early windbreak for the young fruit trees.

In 2004, Beds three and four are in and planted, the back bare raised mound was ready to start and beds towards the vegie garden entrance (right) were planted.
2005, centre left Bed 2 and centre right bed 3. Peach tree pretending to be a white bag tree, all in aid of fruit fly free fruit, and yes it was worth the effort.

The garden has been through a few stages as far as the amount of attention I've had to spend on it. The initial two years of setting up beds and swales were intensive and exciting. The next couple of years saw some good growth in the first beds and more new orchard beds being built. Then a couple of years when my artwork picked up, that busy, busy thing took over and so did the weeds. La Nina weather certainly helped this along. But I have to say that designing with permaculture principals in mind made a big difference, the bones of the garden are still there, the swales worked wonderfully in dry years, holding and directing moisture deep to the tree roots, growth accelerated in the wet years. Plants that seemed lost in the weeds, kept on growing and have been 'found' again. The underplanting have changed a lot since they first went in the ground, with a lot more shade now and gradual phasing out of the pioneer pigeon pea, no longer required for a wind break.

2011, looking uphill from the bottom of the orchard.

 I've spent some time over this winter clearing the weeds, mulching and finding plants again, I'm thinking about where the orchard will head in the next few years. For too long I left growth habit up to the plants, not pruning enough. A blog post by professional gardener Chris some time ago reminded me that gardens are created places, they need maintenance and control, so the pruning saw and clippers have been in regular use, bringing in more light where needed, reducing lower branches that created ladders for vine weed and there are a couple of trees that eight years on I realise are just too big for where I planted them....they'll have to go...such is the changing dynamics of a garden. A never ending journey, which I love.

Nicola Chatham has some great tips on starting a permaculture garden and lots more on her blog that's well worth a read.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ikigai - the reason for getting up in the morning

Following a link from India Flints blog - Not all those who wander are lost, led to this interesting Ted talk on Jeanne Beck's blog, thanks India and Jeanne.

Art by Jeanne Beck: Ikigai and Art Making: A Sense of Purpose: " Dan Beuttner discusses the cultures and lifestyles that seem to contribute to health and longevity in this Ted talk."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In the studio

The before and after of paper cutting. Phew!...Today I finished the works I've been making for my upcoming exhibition, Site Lines at Spiro Grace Art Rooms. I still have a few other projects to complete this month, but it feels good to get some items crossed off my August to do list.

I have enjoyed making this series of papercuts, developing from several day trips to Coochiemudlo Island and earlier visits to North Stradbroke and Russell Islands. Working onsite provides me with a lot of memories to draw on and the option while there of working with textures of the place.