Sepia ink was the substance that took my fancy when deciding what art materials to take on the recent mini-residency I undertook at Koonjewarre between Xmas and New Years. Although I packed up all kinds of materials to take along something about the darkish brown ink possessed my imagination.
"I was much interested, on several occasions, by watching the habits of an Octopus or cuttle-fish ... they darted tail first, with the rapidity of an arrow, from one side of the pool to the other, at the same instant discolouring the water with a dark chestnut-brown ink."
Boxing Day I packed and went to the mountains 90 mins or so south of the city where I live. Springbrook National Park is a stunning destination and I'd not been there in 5 years and before that it was about 20 plus years since I'd stayed there so it was my good luck to have studio space on the mountain at a Retreat where I could work.
I wrote more on this at my Studio blog last week and I posted on my Homage to the Seed Facebook page regularly during the 6 days I was up there at Koonjewarre.
Journal pages, working with twigs dipped in the Sepia ink.
Journal pages ... I was really taken with these
Black Wattle seed pods that were so maze-like.
Stunning walks are abundant in this region.
bush walking led to all kinds of magnificent views
yet i loved the details as well as the grand vistas!
I gathered some small fruiting branches from a Rainforest species
and placed them over a quick drawing of the same species.
I liked noticing all the lines in these images
Candlenuts are a species I'd like to know more about. Late night
drawing I explored rainforest fruit species online... keen
photographers documenting Far North Qld rainforest species
Carnavalia aralifolia ... actually from an
image found on the internet from Far North Qld.
Loved this unique fern at the site where 12 of us went to volunteer
clearing the invasive species Aristia, known also as Blue Stars.
This grass below was noticed in the area where we were weeding.
I pulled together this series of images that emphasise
line and also tonal contrasts, mostly in Sepia. When
downloading images tonight I could see more clearly
what had captured my attention and its struck me that
I was also seeing this environment in a much drier
state than my other trips. It can be such a wet spot!
I set up a temporary studio and offered 4 short 90 minute
classes to those in the camp running whilst I was there.
Drawing these acacia pods was intriguing!
A few of the class participant's artworks... it was a group of
7 who joined me for the drawing class at the studio over the
week, most of whom are never involved in art of any kind. It
was exciting to see how much they relished working visually!
A concertina book made of beautiful watercolour paper was
an ideal challenge for many new to drawing and making.
Using twigs dipped in the Sepia ink was a popular
approach to drawing. Various people tried this approach
with gusto and returned each day to work in this manner.
It was an ideal medium for the class to draw the seeds
collected around this particular location.
Being able to easily visit stunning scenic
sites nearby was such a treat.
This tree below was massive, however it was
damaged and the lower trunk was all that remained.
More linear complexity...
And a message noted down in one of the class session by a participant...
The focus of classes was Seeds and Biodiversity... seeds were collected from around the grounds and the Studio was lined with artworks and material relevant to the theme.
We had two guest speakers over the week in this class. Also in residence was Peter Lawson whose career and subsequent years have been spent working around landscape and conservation, including Marine conservation as well. He spoke for well over and hour and we asked questions and clarified our understanding of the background to his experience and how in step his work has been with the unfolding of some major conservation themes in Australia.
He started off at Forestry school around the 60's and talked about influences and perspectives on conservation that existed at the time and how he moved from Forestry to Conservation, Forest and Lands and then to Conservation and Environment over decades as the portfolios evolved and new departments were formed to deal with the increasingly sophisticated understandings of natural resources and how they best be managed and sustained. In the 90's a move to Qld took him into new work agendas and projects. Currently he is still involved with the Springbrook National Park through a connection with the Springbrook Rescue Project.
This dense and stimulating dialogue, and another similarly informative session with Deanna Scott talking about her extensive work in Bio-security within her Qld Govt role, provided an incredibly informative background to our exploration of seeds and Biodiversity in the workshops.
Arrangements to go to the mountains in December were quite late in the making ... and I am very grateful that a plan that started out in a light-hearted chat evolved into such a poignant, educational and high quality experience. We discussed Eco-tourism whilst up there and its growing relevance... access to volunteering, education, projects and such. One has to wonder at the alarming waste of opportunity given how much movement there is on the planet and how often engaging more deeply with a place is passed over.
The same people who gave or engaged in the talks, and took part in my workshops were also volunteering at the Springbrook Rescue Project down the road on New Years Eve. There was plenty of time for people to disappear and do what they wished, or go walking, or take off somewhere for afternoon tea even... but what was clear when I left was the way there had been a real engagement with place.
I arrived home late yesterday afternoon and have been missing this extraordinary region, its dense vegetation and wild weather changes all day long, the wallabies and the cool... low clouds hugging the mountain for part of the week. Today I downloaded photos, took care of some business but otherwise spent time catching up with my thoughts and processing this wonderful experience in the mountains.
I've many more photos but thought I'd stay in theme here at this post.
Sending you all my very best greetings for a Happy New Year and a wish that your 2014 be a year to remember for a number of truly rewarding and uplifting reasons!