Tuesday, May 31, 2011

floating land in the Noosa biosphere

On Sunday I went to Boreen Point to see the Floating Land Festival.

Found at the website for the Festival:

boreen point

The focal venue is Boreen Point at Lake Cootharaba in the UNESCO-listed biosphere of Noosa. Lake Cootharaba is the largest lake in the Noosa River system and on a sunny day the lake is filled with boats and boating enthusiasts. The lake is the gateway to the upper Noosa River, the Noosa Everglades and the Great Sandy National Park. The shore of Boreen Point is steeped in history – Eliza Fraser, shipwrecked with her husband master mariner James Fraser, for whom the island is named, was rescued by a convict at Boreen Point in 1836. The village retains strong connections with its early days and many of the old cottages, as well as the original Le Bateau Ivre Guest House, remain standing. The Apollonian Hotel is an important historic landmark and gathering place. The character of Boreen Point has been enhanced over time with ‘Queenslanders’ relocated from surrounding areas and, more recently, designs and lightweight construction responding to the climate and setting have added to the appeal of the village.

artists working on site

Angela Torenbeek, Flora Jo Taylor, Hartono, Ilka Nelson, James Muller, Jeremy Neideck, Jo Tito, Jung Minji, Kirsty Boyle, Kris Martin, Lyndon Davis, Marion Gaemers, Park Younghee, Polly Sara, Ramon Guardans, Dr Ros Bandt, Samson Young, Sue Ryan, Tak Hoyong, Tega Brain and Xanthe Beesley.

noosa biosphere

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB) designated Noosa as a biosphere region in September 2007. This was a first for Queensland, and international recognition of the special character of Noosa. More importantly, Biosphere Reserve status provides a focus for Noosa’s aspirations for a sustainable future – working together to build economies, communities and knowledge, and ensuring coastline, waterways and forest habitats and wildlife are valued, cared for and conserved. Biosphere Reserves are managed by local communities and one of the key criteria met in awarding Noosa UNESCO Biosphere status was the community record of working together to live sustainably in a natural environment.
The World Network of Biosphere Reserves was established by UNESCO as a practical tool to solving one of the most important challenges of our time: How can we reconcile conservation of biodiversity and biological resources with their sustainable use? Noosa Biosphere’s Vision Statement states that the ‘...Noosa Biosphere will be a learning community that cultivates harmony between people and nature, for both conservation and sustainable development’. Floating Land is recognised and supported by the Noosa Biosphere as a key event in realising this vision.

I liked coming across this piano that was positioned overlooking the water ... chairs lined up in front... found the video below of the musician installed to play for the passers-by. When I was there there was simply a sign on the piano saying "play me!"

Brisbane Artist Anthony (Tenee) Dyer plays piano as part of his Floating Land installation beside La
Brisbane Artist Anthony (Tenee) Dyer plays piano as part
of his Floating Land installation beside Lake Cootharaba
( - ABC Multiplatform
watch this video!

There were all kinds of activities and instillations. I'm going to focus on one thing that really captured my attention. At this location by the water there were some sculptural works in situ next to a tent where people had been working.

I decided to drive to the nearby town of Cooroy to the old Butter factory to see the opening of the official exhibition of these woven works.

"The Ghost Net Project is for people from (Indigenous) communities to find ways to work together to get rid of marine debris in their sea country." Djawa Yunupingu, Dhimurru

Ghost nets are a huge problem in the Gulf of Carpentaria, where they drift on ocean currents and kill marine life. The Carpentaria Ghost Nets Program is an alliance of Indigenous rangers and other non-governmental organisations working to eradicate ghost nets. Salt magazine

Go to the Ghost Nets Australia website to read about the program. This is what I found waiting of me which was spectacular to say the least. As I walked around and read more about this work it struck me as an incredibly powerful testament to the fragility of life as we know it on this planet if we don't face the now with intelligence, industriousness and above all good common sense. This exhibition has loads of those qualities and is remarkable for its visual aesthetic above all!

Please note: It is important that any use of these images is quoted crediting origin of 
the work... and this post.I was unable to pick up a brochure - now back in Brisbane I 
find that I cant look up a website for this show to get thedetails on where each work is 
from. I have included Maps and extensive information below and ask that 
all images are quoted with website for Ghostnets Australia and adequate 
information that will lead viewers to this important project.

copy of a photo on poster

I didnt get a shot of the whole work...  I was quite distracted by getting
close-ups of the incredible fibres and weaving in the work.

Context in which we work - "Caring for Country"

"The Ghost Net Project is for people from (Indigenous) communities to find ways to work together to get rid of marine debris in their sea country." Djawa Yunupingu, Dhimurru
We are working in an environment that is extremely remote and unpopulated with areas difficult to access by land. The people are mostly Indigenous scattered in isolated pockets, some in townships created by the establishment of mines and the rest in homelands. This means they have culturally diverse backgrounds and a wide range in their capacity to do things but they all aspire to have greater influence on the management of their coastal resources including threats to those resources. Ghost Net work is but a small part of the larger "Caring for Country" activities that are performed by rangers and community organisations across the whole northern Australia.

Caring for Country is best summed up by a team of medical researchers in their publication:
Healthy country, healthy people: the relationship between Indigenous health status and "caring for country" [Burgess CP, 2009]
For Indigenous peoples, "country" encompasses an interdependent relationship between Indigenous peoples and their ancestral lands and seas. [Burgess, CP 2008] "Country is multi-dimensional - it consists of people, animals, plants, Dreamings; underground, earth, soils, minerals and waters, air. . . People talk about country in the same way that they would talk about a person: they speak to country, sing to country, visit country, worry about country, feel sorry for country, and long for country." [Rose D. 1996]
"Caring for country" means participating in interrelated activities on Aboriginal lands and seas with the objective of promoting ecological, spiritual and human health. It is also a community driven movement towards long-term social, cultural, physical and sustainable economic development in rural and remote locations, simultaneously contributing to the conservation of globally valued environmental and cultural assets. [Morrison J, 2007]
By combining customary and contemporary knowledge, Aboriginal landowners deliver a broad suite of environmental services of national and global significance, including:
  • Border Protection
  • Quarantine Services
  • Wildfire abatement/carbon sequestration
  • Control of invasive weeds and feral animals
  • Biodiversity conservation, fisheries management
  • Water resource management
  • Sustainable commercial use of wildlife
  • Cultural maintenance activities
For more information see Partners - and Reports - for the full article:

How are we fixing it?

As only about 10% of the Ghost Nets found so far are of Australian origin this makes finding a solution to the problem a complex issue needing more than just a quick fix cleanup & an education campaign to local fishermen. It needs:

Photo courtesy WWF
  • Capacity building of Indigenous rangers to continue managing their sea country beyond the life of this project,
  • Accumulating quality information in the form of research and data so that government & non-government organisations have useful tools to assist them to broker International solutions to stopping the source of this menace, and
  • Finding solutions to the disposal of this incredible amount of non biodegradable rubbish, apart from the current method of land-fill.

View Image

Turtle escaping

Image taken: 0000-00-00

Photographer: Djawa Yunupingu, Director of Dhimurru
Land Management Aboriginal Corporation
Subject: Hawkesbill turtle getting away from net
Location: Cape Arnhem, 2001

View Image

At the dump site for ghost nets

Image taken: 2005-10-14

Photographer: Jane Dermer
Subject: At the end of the day at dump
Marthakal Rangers & Sam Muller
Location: Galiwin'ku landfill, Elcho Island, Northern Arnhem Land

View Image

6 Tonne Taiwanese Gill Net

Image taken: 2006-11-10

Photographer: Jane Dermer, Carpentaria Ghost Nets Project
 Officer based at Dhimurru Land Management Aborigianl corporation
 office in Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory.
Subject: 6 tonne net retrieved from ocean off Arnhem Land
 by a joint operation with Aust. Fish Mangagement Authoirty,
 customs, NT Parks & Dhimurru personnel
Location: Nhulunbuy, North East Arnhem Land,
Northern Territory, Australia

Th is festival is on for a another week. I'm so pleased I was up the coast for a workshop I conducted at Caloundra on Saturday... it was an easy trip to see this on Sunday.

Have a good week everyone!

PS: This Saturday coming I'll be presenting my Homage to the Seed project at a brilliant event in Brisbane... read more at studio blog here. If you're in Brisbane there's some great things to get involved with on the day! I'll add that later this week.


Annette said...

Hiya, thankyou so much for the info on the Floating Land festival, more so for the info and pictures regarding the ghost net artwork. Fantastic...

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Annette,
great to hear from you!
Glad you liked the ghostnet story... it was so poignant and the work quite stunning.
sophie x

r said...

fabulous to see that this exhibiton so close by
I met Aly only recently ..

Sophie Munns said...

Thanks for this excellent links to Aly ... I had a good look at the websites/blog and was so pleased Ro!
I'm not normally so clutzy about names ... put it down to being a bit overtired.There was work from a lot of different groups and individuals.
Bit sad I didn't get to see more of what was on offer really!

r said...

yes , seems that this is perhaps a far reaching program with many communities contributing ..?
Aly had recently been to Groote Island to work on some of this ...

great post Sophie.

Sophie Munns said...

I found a map of all the communities dotted around the entire gulf of Carpentaria from the northern tip of NT to the tip of Q;d... including island communities.
The Map s under the last image... before the background about the project.
Really had to post on this... so glad you enjoyed!

ronnie said...

rippa story! I've been following floating land project FB page - and it sounds terrific (but I hadn't heard anything about the ghost net project..... ahhhh what a wonderful arty thing that is!)

good luck with your arty presentation

Sophie Munns said...

Thanks my southern friend!
Something lovely about this festival... friendly... low key... a lot happening if you take the time.

Pretty huge the Ghostnets project ... I'd not registered what was going on... feel like in the back of my mind Id heard of it! What a way to promote a region we dont hear about much in this country as well as the fact of the nets damaging marine life etc
Ciao Ronnie,

Candice Herne said...

Hi Sophie So thrilled to read that you went to this festival. Unlucky me was sick in bed with some disgusting virus. And ruined all my plans. I would love to see how to get involved next year it looks like my kind of playground. I love the second photograph beautiful. take care

Sophie Munns said...

HI Candy...
it goes for a week still... maybe you'll get down there yet!
Its been good to finally start getting the hang of using the new camera Ive got .... still having a strange time downloading photos...??
What a lovely spot... protected and peaceful.... away from the hoards!
Hope you bounce back very soon!
S x

annamaria said...

Thank you for the introduction to all this- Fascinating ghost net project!Always so exciting to visit here Sophie- X

Anonymous said...

Interesting images Sophie! I love the name floating land. It is so poetic. I thought the "net objects" were simply beautiful. A wonderful way to use the waste as a raw material. They also make a very strong statement. It was overwhelming to see the image with the men and the huge amount of nets that had washed on shore. I would love to think that, was the total sum in the ocean but, fear that it is just a small percentage. Once again thank you for drawing our attention to things that are going on in this would. Special good luck with your talk and booth!

Sophie Munns said...

Yes... poetic... totally with you on that Mary... sets up all kinds of imaginings. The person who wrote the essay for my December residency exhibition was a founder, or the founder, of this festival some years ago ... so it does not surprise me that poetic title and the flavour of this event.
The net images... the sad thing is that that pile would be for one area only... we have a lot of coastline on this continent. And the coast that people never get to, don't live near, cant access... it washes up there too!
Glad you liked the woven works...
and thanks for cheering me on!

mansuetude said...

some very beautiful images--love the ghost net project, though in my mind at first i thought it was like a dream catching ritual with nets for the unseen world. silly me.

Sophie Munns said...

Interesting thought Mansuetude!
I guess the floating land title and the 'ghost' nets.
Not to forget the indigenous way with story!

Anonymous said...

Interesting post and lovely pics as usual. I love what the artists have made with the debris. Vibrant!

Anonymous said...

Interesting post and lovely pics as usual. I love what the artists have made with the debris. Vibrant!

Sophie Munns said...

The exciting things this time is that I actually got my new camera working ... quite a change... thanks for popping in!

Judy Martin said...


I really feel tuned into the ghost net images that you posted.
I have not seen this project before.

Thank you for posting about it.

Sophie Munns said...

Thanks Judy... 'tis an amazing project... a complete circle....if only they can get the broad attention of the fishing industry!
glad you popped in!