Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'Perennial Symbols of the Botanical Realm I'

This artwork 'Perennial Symbols of the Botanical Realm I', 60 x 120 cm, was originally a Dyptich and began its life in the studio I occupied in Paddington in the second half of 2010. 

After a few days of working on this painting following Xmas, 2010 a full month of intense, drenching rains led to the first major flooding Brisbane had seen in decades. Although the studio was high up on a hilly ridge it was a bit wet when I returned to find how things were. All was fine though. During the flood I was forced to stay put at home in Clayfield. Roads had been cut off everywhere so it didn't even bear thinking about trying to get in to the studio to work. Most of Queensland had gone under water, flooding had devastated some areas and loss of life was serious.

As I'd grown up in a river town in Northern NSW flooding brought back stark memories. Summer was swallowed up by rains and grey skies and difficult stories of how it had been for others. This painting languished for a couple of weeks and I moved out of the studio soon after. It was months later I started work on it again... but in my small studio at home it was a bit crowded working on such a large canvas and I never was sure where this was going.

Getting started at the Paddington Studio... painting on the right
was a Dyptich that eventually evolved into something complete.

For ages there was something very heavy, very stuck 
 about this work ... I was unable to lighten it up in any way.

to say I worked and reworked this canvas is an understatement.

And yet...

... this other work in the blue green palette never presented 
that problem and instead, just came gradually to life! 

If you look at this section of the finished artwork below you'll note I was eventually able to find a way into this work but not before I took a paintbrush to it and radically altered it by whiting over areas of the painting in order to start building up colour dynamics and layers from scratch again.

This time around the eye had space to rest and areas of the work acted like pathways, breathing spaces between intense sections of colour and pattern.

Here is a small section which highlights the interplay of colour and form, patterns and motif.

Recently I put this work in my Online Shop as a print... making the image above this one available as an archival Limited Edition print. 

The original artwork was shown as two separate artworks at my February Exhibition and both works sold on Opening night which was interesting given I'd separated them. The owner of this work kindly indulged me when I decided I needed to tinker slightly with the work before she collected it after the exhibition was over. I'm very glad for that extra bit of time to add some layering after I'd had the chance during the exhibition to ponder the work. When I finally parted with it I felt it was fine... even if it took a little over two years.

Given that rather involved story its been interesting to find this work being chosen ( a section of the work that is) for use on a christmas card for an organisation based in Bonn, in Germany.

The organisation's agenda happens aligns surprisingly well with the artwork's essential message... referring as it does to the perpetual cycles of the Seed inheritance from around the globe, through layers and laters of small seed forms. 

The Global Crop Diversity Trust is 'an independent international organization working to guarantee the conservation of crop diversity. Forever.' 

This excerpt below is quoted directly from their page WHO ARE WE?

Crop diversity is one of the world’s least recognized but most valuable resources.  Individual crop varieties, such as the 200,000 varieties of wheat, have different traits for drought or heat tolerance, nutritional quality, disease resistance and every other possible characteristic. 
Crop diversity is therefore the raw material for improving and adapting crops to meet all future challenges.  Yet at the moment much of the world’s crop diversity is neither safely conserved, nor readily available to scientists and farmers who rely on it to safeguard agricultural productivity.  Diversity is being lost, and with it the biological basis of our food supply.
The Global Crop Diversity Trust is the only worldwide response to this funding crisis.  In a world where there are many important, and apparently overwhelming, issues demanding attention, it is important to note how the Trust differs from other organizations competing for donations
Its mission is achievable. It is rare that the world faces a major problem which has highly disturbing implications but an identifiable and achievable solution. This is preciselywhat the Trust offers; a costed, measurable plan, relying on existing institutions and simple proven technologies.
It is the only solution. Crop diversity is disappearing, and the Trust is the sole dedicated worldwide funding organization for its conservation. The Trust itself is operating in a unique political "window of opportunity", following the entering into force of the new International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources, and has partnered with all the important organisations in this field. The Trust offers a unique opportunity to put in place a rational and cost-effective system for the conservation of the resources which underpin all agriculture and the world's future food supplies.

This is one of the organisations I began visiting online as I researched for the residency at Mt Coot-tha in 2010. Investigating Biodiversity initially was through the website of the UN International Year of Biodiversity in 2010 and also  Kew Gardens and the Millennium Seedbank. This had been a springboard to Bioversity International and the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

Hence, I've posted frequently here at this blog on these organisations. You might to read their website to consider the work being carried out in connection with numerous countries, organisations and individuals. My Scoop-it site Bio-cultural Diversity when I get time is one of the places where I get feeds from the Crop Trust. 

I've often rescooped posts by Luigi Guarino, senior scientist at the Crop Trust. Click to visit his sites.

Luigi Guarino

Luigi Guarino & Jeremy Cherfas discuss the diversity of crops, livestock, microbes and foodways at the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog... and here.

I was contacted by Luis Salazar from Bonn who arranged for this Xmas card to feature my work and a follow up later in January with promo on the Homage to the Seed Project.

I'm very pleased to have been able to share this work with this very unique and fascinating Not-for-Profit organisation, especially knowing the enormous value  of the work they do and are connected with. I've often started my day trawling through sites like their website, Luigi's Scoops or similar. Before I'm up and into the day I've often spent two hours reading current news from around the world on seeds, biodiversity and so on. Its a pattern that has become somewhat fixed over several years now.

I used to trawl art and design websites most days when I could, and spend hours blogging per week. But as the climate shifts and life on this globe of ours is ever more pressured I find it is of utmost relevance to have a sense of where I am, and where we all are, through these stories. 

My language remains very visual although I'm prompter at times to need to write.  I paint for intense periods when I can. However, the painting is very often a meditation... a stilling of the mind as all the reading and thinking settles into a place where I can feel my response and make choices about how to proceed and think my way to the next thing.

Its late now but I did want to make this post tonight so I can share it as this year is winding down fast. My intern Jane, a 17 yr old student is coming in the morning. I haven't packed to go up the range on Boxing day for 5 days of painting in the Springbrook National Park. Xmas day I guess I can do that. 

This painting of Perennial Symbols which started in the big rains of late 2010 into 2011 is alive and well in spirit. Now more than ever it seems we must find ways to celebrate our natural heritage and care for it. Our way may not be the same as another's. And perhaps conversations are a really good starting point.

During the last five years of this project on seeds I've had to deal with moments of interrogation or angry monologues from the odd person who needed to point out to me that Scientists were evil and why was I working with them ... and Seed banks were very evil. At first I wondered what they knew that I didn't. I was prepared to admit my knowledge was poor. In the end I realised that if it wasn't a two way, mutual conversation they maybe didn't know terribly much ...  but neither did they seem to have the desire to be open or learn either.

Don't forget ... you can enter my intern Sam's Competition Survey. I will draw the winner on my return at New years... so get your answers in! Its the previous post where she wrote about entering the survey.

Best wishes to all for a very peaceful festive season, wherever you are.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Be in the running to win a PRIZE ... FILL OUT OUR SURVEY!

Hi all, 

My name is Sam and I am currently  doing an internship with Sophie on her Homage to the Seed project. Last week was my first time working at the Seed Art Lab. I wrote a blog post about my art while I was there. 

So I'm back again to talk about an idea that Sophie for us to conduct an interesting survey on seeds. 

We wanted to test people's awareness of seeds. 

All you have to do is answer these questions and be in the running for some of Sophie's post cards and another prize.  (original Sophie Munns artwork) The purpose of this survey is to see how differently adults and people around my age (15) respond to this. 

Hope to hear from you 

If you can send us an email with your answers here  we will be sending out a postcard to the first 5 responses and the best response of all will receive an original artwork like this example from a recent series of watercolours: 

Message from sophie:  this page at my Seed.Art.Lab where I have this series of artworks for sale. The prize will be one of these artworks that is available.

"50 Watercolour paintings"  A series of works on 300gm Cotton paper, 10 cm x 21 cm. Some in the series of 50 are now sold. If you are interested in these I can send images via email.
$75 each or series of 3 for $180.
MORE INFO and background story in the Blog Post.

Looking forward to hearing from you everyone!
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