Wednesday, October 24, 2012

And I was worrying about the crocs!

My home for the recent Cairns residency was spacious, well set up, and on the whole very comfortable!

 Some of you might have seen these images...

It was a 5 min walk to the Botanic Gardens and Tanks Art Centre... 2 mins on the bike I hired. I nested and soon got into the swing of being in the tropics, more or less... for 4 long, busy weeks!

entrance path to Gardens

I arrived home last Thursday at 11am and went straight to bed.... for 5 days. Well ... in between I went to the doctor twice.


Well... it was this little fellow...

Sand fly
modified from: Kettle, D.S. (1995). Medical and Veterinary Entomology. CAB International. Wallingford
I've just googled sand flies, or midges as they are better known, to find an image and this info. I could not even see the little things they are so tiny!

"Biting midges are responsible for acute discomfort, irritation and severe local reactions. Itching may commence immediately after the bite, but often not for some hours later, and most individuals are unaware of being bitten at the time. Biting midges have their greatest impact on people arriving to an area or tourists. Local residents seem to build up some immunity to the biting. In some sensitive people, midges can produce persistent reactions that blister and weep serum from the site of each bite and these reactions may last for several days to weeks."

Well, they sure did sucker on my legs! Must have been a lovely fresh tasty tourist... I had an allergic reaction like I've never had before...but discovered this to be not so uncommon! So many commiserated with me I soon learned how others had fared with these tiny midges. Everyone in fact had a story... their friend or daughter etc... so it became clear that although newbies generally come off worse for wear some people have a perrennial allergic reaction that makes them very wary indeed!

And there I was riding my bike each day over Saltwater creek past the mangroves thinking I might run into a crocodile. 

Who'd have thought this minimal creature could wreak havoc! I was bitten a number of times during my that by the time my exhibition went up my legs were looking a little savaged close to the ankles. You know how non-stop and all-consuming Art-show preparations are... I'd managed not to look too closely in my haste yo get things ready that it was only a day after the opening that a lovely visitor to the gallery took one look and said..."oh you are from out of town! Get thee to the doctor now!"
Bless my visitor from Kuranda! Her tales were effective as was her care!

That aside... it was a brilliant month and I have many blissful and enriching memories...  the reason I am telling you this is so you'll understand why I ran out of blogging mojo. The only online place I have been turning up has been my Homage to the Seed facebook page because its the easiest site to manage when you are bedridden, legs up to enable blood to get to infected lower legs... and falling asleep every five mins!

Right now I am sitting beside the Brisbane River at the park in New Farm, gazing out on the Jacaranda blossoms falling off the trees in the breeze and making the most of the free wifi that Council has wired up near the Rotunda.

Image found here
On my left one can see the river and the occasional City-cat passing by... these catamarans are the my fav form of public transport in this city. Walkers and joggers pass by as well, but its peaceful and pleasantly cool today.
Found here
A job awaits downloading photos and tying up many a loose-end from the month away. You can probably sense I am relishing this slow moment between commitments and activity. Always good to breathe out... guess I can thank the mighty midge for that!

When flying out of Cairns last week I had this strange sensation of wanting to hug the place - wrap my arms around the entire landscape and people there as I looked down over the views from the aircraft window. I was embraced in such a warm way during my stay and the time spent bike-riding meant I was a lot closer to the ground and saw more than I otherwise might have. My trip to the Daintree, a World Heritage National Park in the most stunning Wet Tropics Rainforest with indigenous friend Sheryl, a former park ranger there, was perhaps the highlight. 

I just felt so grateful ... no doubt where that impulse to offer loving arms came from! Below the plane lay the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet tropics Rainforest with all their rich biodiversity ..  and added to that are people of all different cultural backgrounds, many of whom I found to be deeply attached to this place, with great reverence for the natural world. 

So long to Cairns but I will be back... and of you ever get the chance grab it... you wont be sorry! Just watch out for the midges!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Opening on tomorrow evening!

It was a busy yet quite wonderful day today! More on that below.

Tomorrow, the Show I've been working towards for a time, esp for this past month ... will be opened by guest speaker, Scientist Rosemary Hill. I'm so looking forward to seeing some of the wonderful people Ive met here who'll be attending the evening opening... or perhaps popping in over the weekend when I will be at the Gallery before heading back to Brisbane next week.


Read more information here. Friday 12th October, from 6pm and 10 till 4pm on the weekend I'll be around

One thing I wanted to achieve before I left was to get up to Daintree National Park and see a new friend Sheryl who was a Park Ranger up there and is now an artist and involved in a wonderful Indigenous Art project at Mossman Gorge, in a truly beautiful part of the world.

Only arrived back home at 9pm and am looking at the long list of to-do's for tomorrow so there's no time to download photos now of the spectacular tour through the World Heritage listed Rainforest.

seed material from June trip to this region

Recent seed material gathered with the help of Gardens friends

Just looking through my photos realising how many I've yet to resize for blogging since I've been in Cairns. The fantasy of posting most days soon dawned on me. 

One feels so ambitious at the start of the residency... then  come delays and challenges and soon time seems to be there is an earnest attempt to pull off hoped for outcomes!

Hello to all..,

back soon with some great photos I promise!
S x

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The weekend in Cairns

Ive had a most productive weekend in Cairns. Started with a trip to town Saturday for a slow start, breakfast and a wander, then shopping to stock up for the next week or so which will be very busy. 

This is a work on Linen I've been working on today. Approx 140 cm x 80 cm I worked on the large table out on the verandah all day... the edge is frayed and stitching in brown linen thread contans the fabric. I've used a clear gesso so it is archivally prepared and will be finished with a similar layer of clear glaze. It could be framed or simply mounted on the wall. I like how portable this kind of work is...highly suitable for working on the move!

I posted at the Studio blog about it and added other images so you can skip over there to see if time permits!

 Saturday morning...
     at the lagoon by the sea in Cairns. Its a free public pool and isn't fenced off, is surrounded by parkland and BBQ's and people enjoying this space! And it overlooks the Ocean. Love that there are places under cover where you can sit in the shade and loll about in the pool!

There's a Saturday market down at the shore. A wonderful person I spoke with was Helen, originally from papua New Guinea. This bag, called a billum, was very special. It deserved several photos just to show the amount of industry involved in a piece like this.

She has a stall at Rusty's, a wonderful fresh food market I have been to once a week. Saturdays are very lively at the market and surrounding street full of cafes.

I was in awe of the work in this billum... Helen shrugged off the work,,, but did admit to it taking months using a similar technique to that used in net-making for fishing in Papua New Guinea.

The pattern is also stunning and the dyes are from plants.

The price tag was $150... worth considerably more I am sure you will agree.
I was sorry not to be able to make that purchase I can tell you!

I have a very small billum given to me when I was about 20 ... it contains small shells and is one of the most precious things I own.

Breakfast today... Papaya, which I love, and Biodynamic yoghurt with a most unusual ingredient... Davidson's Plum, an indigenous fruit that is edible and known for its excellent nutritional qualities.

I also met farmers at the Tanks Market at the Botanic Gardens

Photo: A huge bunch of flowers and beans 

on Sunday who grow Vanilla Beans and produce products for market.

Photo: Beautiful Vanilla Essence from Daintree Vanilla & Spice

So much around here to explore. I've got a lot of painting to do in the next week, now that I have settled in and found my stride...  but will hire a car to make a trip to Mossman Gorge to visit a lovely indigenous artist I met on my last trip.

Bye for now. Have a good week wont you!