Sunday, April 7, 2019

Where Art meets Science - Part 1

How long has it been since you were up a tree?  I mean, like REALLY up a tree.  Recently I had the privilege to sit in the canopy of a 48metre strangler fig in the middle of a rainforest.....

It was all part of an art-science BioBlitz at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, which is an island of rainforest in the mountains in the Sunshine Coast hinterland (an hour from my home).  Ok, so they really aren't mountains like some cities have, but in flat coastal Queensland they're pretty impressive.

I was selected to be one of six artists-in-residence for the BioBlitz, held over 4 days.  Five huge Stranger Figs were chosen as our focus of the project.  We worked alongside tree climbers, scientists and lots of like-minded volunteers - a wonderful opportunity for collaboration and 'to look over the shoulder' at science methodologies and discoveries.

My fellow artists and I had a job to do though - each fig had a blank visual diary assigned to it, and our job as artists was to respond creatively in each book to the tree, its surrounds, its biodiversity, and the activity of the BioBlitz.

I've got so much to share with you, I'm going to blog about it in several posts.  I wasn't able to blog during the BioBlitz as I was busy focusing on the job at hand, and enjoying the amazing forest!

Day 1 
On the first day, it rained and rained and rained.  Wonderful because we seriously needed the rain and the fungi scientists were ecstatic.  Not so wonderful as the BioBlitz got off to a slow start due to safety issues. 

I managed to escape into the forest in the afternoon.  My first tree was BarrBarr (Tree 2).   This was a tricky one, involving a log crossing over creek, then through the tangle of forest for 20 metres.  I spent a rewarding couple of hours in the rain, sketching at the base of the tree, before heading back to BioBlitz HQ to use my mini gelli plate to work in my visual diary.

The BioBlitz team

Standing in the rain, checking out the trees on
the first morning.
Leeches were an issue, they kept dropping
from the trees above us!

Misty in the rainforest.  Its the first time I've
walked through a rainforest in the rain - beautiful!
(except for the leeches)

Selfie with BarrBarr

Drawings, watercolour and gelli prints inspired by
looking through a microscope at mosses


A double page spread in the visual diary
using leaves from BarrBarr - gelli prints and drawings

Next Blog post:  Days 2 & 3 of the BioBlitz

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