Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Botanic Gardens Conservation International: a great resource worth a look!

Trawling the Facebook page of Botanic Gardens Conservation International today lead me to their website where I was glad to see the Journal they produce is easily accessed online. Its actually a gold-mine of resources for anyone interested in how the role of Botanic gardens is changing and expanding  and connecting with all-important contemporary themes around Climate, Sustainability and Biodiversity preservation etc to name just a few.

See the list of journals here:

Roots: Issues 3.1 - date


Roots 9:2 - IBSE

There’s nothing new about inquiry-based learning; its theoretical ancestry can be traced, for example, to the work on open learning by Dewey and Wagenschein from the first half of the last century. And were we to scroll back a couple of millennia, we’d probably find that the idea of encouraging students towards questioning self-knowledge would earn a nod of recognition from Socrates himself! In this edition of Roots we have invited authors from Europe and Asia to guide us across the current ISBE landscape 
 Roots 9:1 Cover

Roots 9:1 - Children's Gardens

It’s a challenge facing botanic gardens everywhere: how can they broaden their visitor demographics and develop more meaningful relationships with their host communities? One approach, adopted by gardens worldwide, has been to shift the emphasis towards children and families – and in this latest issue of Roots we explore how some of them are addressing these existential questions of demographic and community relevance.

Roots 8:2 - Science and Culture

Located at the crossroads of science and culture, botanic gardens occupy a key educational and societal role. With human activity leading to environmental degradation and an unsustainable future, varied and imaginative strategies are needed for gardens to challenge these destructive behaviours and offer attractive, alternative models of sustainable living. Roots 8:2 demonstrates that there is no shortage of ideas, with examples from across the globe.
 Roots 8.1 front cover

Roots 8:1 - Growing the Social role of Botanic Gardens

This issue follows a recent study commissioned by BGCI onRedefining the role of botanic gardens: towards a new socialpurpose. Roots 8:1 combines academic perspectives and cases from Ghana, Sweden, UK, Israel, and USA that demonstrate how botanic gardens can develop their social role. Examples include innovative social inclusion projects which may vary from mentoring students from disadvantaged backgrounds in natural science careers (Chicago Botanic Garden) to building bridges over divided Arab and Jewish communities (Jerusalem Botanical Gardens).
7.2 front cover

Roots 7:2 -  Education and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

This issue of Roots follows hard on the heels of BGCI’s 4th Global Botanic Gardens Congress ‘Addressing Global Change: a New Agenda for Botanic Gardens’, hosted so generously in Dublin in 2010 by the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland and supported by the Irish Government. Botanic gardens must be encouraged to take a lead on communicating and educating the public on all targets of the GSPC.

7.1 front cover

Roots 7:1 - Education and

Today, with our growing awareness of the impact humankind is having on the environment; there is also recognition that horticulture has a significant role to play in implementing international strategies such as the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation as well as the Millennium Development Goals. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity – affording botanic gardens an unmissable opportunity to highlight the intimate relationship between biodiversity and horticulture and underline the essential role that horticulture has to play in education. In this issue of Roots we showcase a number of innovative education programmes that demonstrate the potential and significance of botanic gardens in this area.
roots 6.2 front cover

Roots 6:2 - International Year
of Biodiversity

Over the last 3 centuries important ecosystems such as the rainforests have shrunk half of their size, and although they only cover less than 6% of the planet’s surface, they contain the majority of the world’s plant and animal species, many yet undiscovered. Despite these shocking figures, many people are still not aware of the loss of biodiversity and its consequences.  Check out this issue for more information of how different countries invest in developing an understanding of biodiversity around the world and herein.

Roots 6.1 front cover

Roots 6:1 - Interpretation
for Sustainability

A recurring question for botanic gardens everywhere is ‘what do we want to interpret and communicate?’ Interpretation can be used to raise awareness at many different levels and increasingly we are seeing national and international collaboration between botanic gardens aimed at focusing attention on the need for plant conservation. Interpretation is a vast subject and this issue of Roots barely scratches the surface of what there is to know.

roots 5.2 front cover

Roots 5:2 - From there to eternity? The lesson's of Darwin's legacy

When, in November 1859, Charles Darwin published On The Origin of Species, he triggered an intellectual and conceptual earthquake of such magnitude that its aftershocks remain with us a century and a half later.  With 2009 marking the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and 150th anniversary of the publication of On The Origin of Species, this issue of Roots calls on botanic gardens to celebrate the legacy and thinking of this extraordinary man.

roots 5.1 front cover

Roots 5:1 - Climate Change: Can we handle it?

In this climate change issue of Roots, we examine how botanic gardens are confronting perhaps the greatest challenge ever faced by humankind. We show that many botanic gardens are taking the lead in their communities to engage the public in debate and empower them to take action.

Roots: The water issue

Roots 4:2 - Making Waves for Water Conservation

When we started to plan this water-themed issue of Roots, we were blissfully unaware that the summer of 2007 would emerge as the wettest since UK records began. Yet what happened here is nothing compared with what was going on elsewhere in the world. As the rains came down and rivers burst their banks throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia, millions of people were left homeless and without safe drinking water. Simultaneously, elsewhere in the world, millions of others faced serious drought conditions. The relationship between plants and water is intimate and complex; this issue of Roots explores this theme.

Roots 4:1 front cover

Roots 4:1 - Linneaus: Still relevant 300 years on?

300 years ago Linnaeus, regarded as the father of taxonomy and creator of the classification system, had little difficulty in engaging young people’s interest in taxonomy. Students flocked from far and wide to study with him and contemporary accounts suggest that his natural history excursions were notorious events! Now however, many express concern over the apparently inexorable decline in the popularity of taxonomy. This issue of Roots explores the methods and solutions used by educators to bring taxonomy and classification to life. 

Roots 3.2 front cover

Roots 3:2 - Environmental Education and play

This issue of Roots celebrates 'play' in the environment.  With our world becoming more urbanised the need for access to green space has never been greater.  Botanic gardens are wonderful venues for play and many gardens are increasingly aware of the need to offer opportunities for children to explore their surroundings freely.  

Roots 3:1 front cover

Roots 3:1 – Access for all: Problems and Solutions

Most of us would subscribe to the view that botanic gardens ought to be accessible, and by that we generally mean open to the public. But such a simple and unchallengeable statement raises more questions than it seems to answer. For example, what exactly do we mean by access? Who gains access, to what and how? These are some of the issues raised in this edition of Roots.
The resources from this issue compliment the access theme, and can also be downloaded here.

Through the Facebook page I read story after story of enormous interest.... touching down with ideas and concerns I constantly find myself sifting through.

I've included some distinctive material below here as it represents an alternative way of approaching Seeds and Plants... but not so unfamiliar to many who are connected to or have knowledge of the cultural, spiritual or religious teachings of their own or other's cultural heritages.

I thought I would share this as it might interest some readers and certainly reminds one of the importance of acknowledging the teachings that demonstrate how bio-cultural-diversity and bio-diversity are intimately informed and shaped by each other's presence.

Seeds of Unity Resources

Seeds of Unity Resources

seeds of unity logo
We have developed 18 new stimulating lesson plans for use in religious education.  The plans are suitable also for cross-curricular work such as religion and biology or religion and citizenship/PSHEand include references to projects worldwide.  We believe they can easily be adapted to other educational situations
The material is grouped into six thematic sections.  In each section there are two school-based lesson plans and one botanic garden lesson plan. There is no set programme of study; rather teachers are free to construct their own delivery, e.g. spreading each set of activities over several lessons. Each lesson plan is accompanied by teaching resources and there is a suggested assessment activity for each, with differentiated outcomes.  These are offered for the purposes of choice, as teachers wouldn’t be expected to complete an assessment for each lesson.  We hope you enjoy using these resources and we welcome your feedback.

The Awesome Seed

Explore how seeds can be symbols of spiritual and creative potential


Classroom lesson A    

Classroom lesson B    

Seed Survival Game       

Botanic Garden lesson     


Food for Thought

Examine how food made from plants can be viewed in ordinary and sacred contexts and explore

the ethics of food choice and production

food for thought 

Classroom lesson A           

Classroom lesson B  

Classroom lesson        

Botanic Garden lesson    

PDFs for:

The Green Ark

Investigate ideas of stewardship and responsibility for the natural world

 The Green Ark

Classroom lesson A            

Classroom lesson B      


Botanic Garden lesson  

Cultivating Peace

Discover how gardens can reflect the concept of paradise, as well as help to foster

cooperation and inner tranquillity.

 cultivating peace

Classroom lesson A           

Classroom lesson B    

Botanic Garden lesson

Healing Body and Soul

Investigate how plants can be used medicinally, to heal our bodies, and therapeutically to restore our souls.

healing body and mind  

Classroom lesson A     

PDFs for resource 2:

Classroom lesson B       

Botanic Garden lesson         


The Roots of Ritual

Explore how the human dependence on the plant world—in both literal and symbolic senses-

is reflected in ritual

root of ritual

Classroom lesson A                    

Classroom lesson B                                     

Botanic Garden lesson                                   

PDFs for: Table 1Table 2,Table 3
PDFs for: Label 1Label 2

BGCI would like to acknowledge the following people and organisations for their expertise and support in developing the Seeds of Unity resources:

NB If you decide to borrow any links please be sure to give full credit to the source of this material.

Monday, October 21, 2013

launching the NEW Seed.Art.Lab

Tonight I am putting together invitations and plans for the November launch of my new studio.

Both address and mobile number I took off this invitation before posting here... so if you would like to contact me please phone the home number given above....  leave a message here at this blog or alternatively find me at Homage to the Seed Page on Facebook.

I added recent studio news to my Visual Eclectica blog last week which you can read here. If you are in the region in November you are warmly invited to attend. More news soon!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

what's coming up...

At the moment I'm completing work undertaken at Kelvin Grove Secondary College in Brisbane that has involved the coming together of around 60 yr 7 students from 5 local primary schools and a group of artists for a short term Artist-in-Residency project.

My group worked on the theme of Seeds and Biodiversity... and was held over 4 afternoon sessions from July to September. The students were remarkably responsive and had more time been possible deeper responses would have flowed quite easily.

The resources to run extra-curricular programs like this involves considerable organisation/funding by the lead school, Kelvin Grove Secondary College's Art + Design staff ... so it is a privilege to be asked along to play a part.

In thinking how to use available time I focused on giving a series of presentations offering a wide-sweeping picture of seeds across time and place throughout Millennia. Various forms of visual stimulus were also shared with students, including material from my own studio practice plus samples of work from two artists I chose to focus on.

This image provided the basis of the idea for the visual work I wanted to create with my group. Given the final outcome was a large work for exhibition at an School Event in late October I was keen to find an approach that would both hold appeal for students and hopefully provide impact when exhibited.

Pictured above is Claudia, a student from my afternoon classes in 2011. Behind her is the "wallpaper" for a presentation I did at a Sustainability Day held in August that year. Here Claudia points to her drawing of a Mahogany seed pod photocopied in positive and negative formats. I've long been drawn to 'text as art' and using word and image to make works.

Hence we explored the work of Australian based NZ painter Robert McPherson:

Image found here

and much loved NY artist Keith Haring who blazed through the world in the 80's before leaving this planet far too soon due to Aids.

Keith Haring and his signature style... image found here

What these images have in common is a simple graphic linear black and white approach... perfect for a crowded class room where time is limited and visual impact is neccesary!

Here are the first results on week 2 of the program.

students worked on a 30 x 30 cm board

seeds + pods I took in to show students

It took time each week spelling out the complex issues around seeds at this time in history to give students something adequate to work with. My intention was to make sure that any slogans being created in this exercise were coming from an introduction to the multi-faceted story of seeds, the layers and issues and politics and cultural histories. Not every student took that on board but there were those who did have some knowledge on which to build these sessions., with one student in particular on course to become a plant scientist who frequently contributed quite stunning information and ideas to the lessons.

Yesterday I spent time in the afternoon at the school touching up the work and getting ready to create boards for the exhibition. I like these two boards placed together  here:

More on this soon!

Meanwhile, in the new Studio I've been working flat-out whenever possible getting ready for the Studio Launch on November 23 which I will open to the public that weekend with a small exhibit of new work for sale.

I wrote an extensive post on this at my Visual Eclectica blog this week... take a peak at new work and read about the ideas behind the new Studio venture: Seed. Art. Lab : read here!

new business card

All are welcome to attend the studio launch weekend... watch this space for more information of follow/LIKE my Homage to the seed Facebook Page which will fill you in for sure. Alternatively email me here for more information!

Cheerio for now!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

tiny but wondrous...

A quick post tonight to share this amazing gif I posted on my tumblr site: From one small seed


Explosive pods launch seeds up to 20ft
Explosive pods launch seeds up to 20ft (via cravelandscape)

For much more seed and plant related inspiration go visit this tumblr!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Biodiversity - Vancouver Film School (VFS)

Watch and share for an great overview of Biodiversity and the way we humans can be at odds with it!

From Bioversity INternational - Bolivia: Crazy for Quinoa

Ive been following Bioversity International: research for development in agricultural and forest biodiversity over the past 4 years and finding much to share. 

Here I am sharing something I'm personally very interested in from their website with a video on Quinoa which is a must see. Do take 4 minutes to see the film!

Neglected and underutilized species

FAO (2010) estimates that of a total of 300 000 plant species, 10 000 plant species have been used for human food since the origin of agriculture. Out of these, only 150–200 species have been commercially cultivated with four – rice, wheat, maize and potatoes – supplying 50 percent of the world’s energy needs and 30 crops providing 90 percent of the world’s calorie intake. 
Yet  it is estimated around 7,000 plant species are cultivated or harvested from the wild for food.
Bioversity International has been working for more than ten years in south Asia and Latin America to empower the rural poor by strengthening their income opportunities and nutritional security through the improved use and marketing of neglected and underutilized plant species.
Many communities around the world depend on these species that are often referred to as 'orphan crops'.
These traditional crops are often more resilient than modern staple crops as they are better adapted to grow in marginal areas, with less need for irrigation, pesticides and fertilizers. Farmers also appreciate their contribution to maintaining healthy ecosystems and to culturally important traditional food systems.
The lack of attention by mainstream research and development programmes means their potential value is under-estimated and under-exploited, and many are under threat of disappearance.

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