Tuesday, September 28, 2010

From seedpods to abstract

from w
Getting away from the actual subjects of banksia seedpods and floating water plants at Balyang Sanctuary I played about with overlapping, reverse colours, etc. to make new images some that appear to be created using batik wax which used to be a popular art-form at one time and is still widely used in Indonesia and also among Aboriginal communities. It allows for a linear design to overlay the shapes. Here are some of the results - not hand-made, but digital images.


Too much duckweed

How Balyang sanctuary used to look before the drought and today's covering of duckweed. from w
At Balyang Sanctuary I was wondering what was the massive amounts of plant-life on the surface of the water - one whole pond covered in pink, the others almost choking in green. An internet search came up with duckweed, some pink, some green.Okay, it's rather obvious isn't it, when the place has many little ducks enjoying the water after the drought.Do ducks eat duck-weed I wonder. Earlier I had rung Parks and Gardens to ask the name of this 'weed' but no-one knowledgable was there - everyone on holidays - or perhaps watching the young men in lycra riding up and down dales and through the streets of Geelong. It's on TV all day today and fun to guess just where/which road is in view. Don't care about the bikes, just the location which is still being advertised as 'Melbourne'.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Banksia Marginata

from w
There are plenty of banksia marginata growing around the Bellarine Penisular and we noticed several at Balyang Sanctuary the other day. The leaves are smooth edged not like the banksia serrata. Banks of course was on the Captain Cook expedition and the various banksia trees are named after him. I picked up some seedpods and sketched them at home and then played around with the shapes and textures by overlapping various images.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Melbourne is in Geelong - right?

from w
Peceli noticed these extraordinary signs coming up around Geelong, identifying OUR CITY as Melbourne - all to do with a world-class bike race which will disrupt us all for a week. Take note anyone trying to move around Geelong, even Melbourne to Geelong in the next few days.The local Addie ran this today.
Geelong is now in Melbourne, apparently

Carl Dickens | September 27th, 2010
IS THIS RIGHT? Melbourne signs run along Barrabool Rd.

GEELONG residents could be forgiven for thinking they had woken up in Melbourne yesterday.

As promotional signs were installed along the UCI Road World Championships course at Barrabool Rd, Melbourne and Victoria were heavily promoted, but Geelong was notably snubbed.

Ceres resident Jason Whitcomb branded the signage "misleading and disrespectful", saying it gave international viewers an inaccurate representation of the host city.

"It'd make more sense to have City of Greater Geelong signage up, if this (event) is here, why should Melbourne get all the credit," he said.
And another thing - cyclists watch out for the magpies along Barrabool Road. You need to paint eyes on top of your helmets to frighten them off. This has nothing to do with those other magpies - the Collingwood supporters - their team couldn't even beat St Kilda!

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Gently, lightly

from w
As we try to go slow, to see things that are easily bypassed, to get away from the hype of football finals or world bike racing (that's to come in three days to Geelong) I took a few photos of the emerging spring flowers, though the apricot tree blossoms have already gone so quickly. Here's a lovely song written by Shirley Murray of New Zealand - the music is by Colin Gibson and can be found in New Zealand hymn books and also Together in Song (Australian).
Touch the Earth Lightly

1 Touch the earth lightly,
use the earth gently,
nourish the life of the world in our care:
gift of great wonder,
ours to surrender,
trust for the children tomorrow will bear.

2 We who endanger,
who create hunger,
agents of death for all creatures that live,
we who would foster
clouds of disaster--
God of our planet, forestall and forgive!

3 Let there be greening,
birth from the burning,
water that blesses and air that is sweet,
health in God's garden,
hope in God's children,
regeneration that peace will complete.

4 God of all living,
God of all loving,
God of the seedling, the snow and the sun,
teach us, deflect us,
Christ reconnect us,
using us gently, and making us one.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Football is no laughing matter

from w
Well, I'm laughing because I don't really worry one way or another who wins the Aussie Rules Football final at the MCG in Melbourne. However I did listen to the last fifteen minutes on the radio and others in our household watched the TV. The players were stunned at the final siren and many of them just lay on the grass not knowing what to do.The winners? No winners. It was a draw. Just like our recent parliamentary election. Julia in her occasional wisdom had said earlier in the day - prophetically I suppose - 'Well, as long as it's not a draw!' So Collingwood (the team almost everyone hates) and St Kilda will do it all over again next Saturday. The papers have been so full of football - a gladiator kind of sport - and even the cartoonist/philosopher Michael Leunig had his say, but his view is radically different. His article and painting were in today's Age newspaper.

I still think at there's a lot in common between locusts and people when the seretonin kicks in. Over a hundred thousand people were at the MCG watching the game, screaming their heads off. At the end of the day, the two teams had no change-rooms as the Collingwood rooms had a sewerage breakdown, aka Delhi revenge. Then the storm clouds arrived and the 100,000 people all had to run for their cars and trains and buses! It's a lovely life eh!

It would have been nice to have a shared trophy - six months each. No loser. A reminder to our youngsters that winning isn't what sport is about. Hmmm.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

A bent tree near Anglesea

from w
A photo taken the other day was of a gum tree bent over at the Burnside Youth Camp near Anglesea. I made a sketch based on it but altered it by adding yellow because so much of the bush at present is bright with late wattle and heath. Pen, pencils, pastels. It was good to drive out along the Great Ocean Road, see the colours of the bush, though not slowing down to see the tiny wildflowers that are coming out. Here is the photo, the sketch and variations.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wheels - another lost and found painting

from w
Here is another large painting that was lost and found. I had photographed many car wheels and then made a collage using the shapes. As - as we do these days - I messed about with variations using computer generated image manipulation. Well, at least I haven't got Photoshop yet so it's still in the simpler stages!

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Garden sculptures and other things

from w
Yesterday we drove along the Great Ocean Road and stopped a while at Airey's Inlet. There I noticed a small garden sculpture and plant shop, but well, I couldn't part with $3000 for a statue of Buddha, though I do like the calm face. So I took a few photos there, and here also include some images based on drawings of nyle grass and fungus in a garden.

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Loners and clusterers

from w
Yesterday we went for a drive along the Great Ocean Road - yes, all the twists and turns, and near Bells Beach the big dipper. One thing I noticed was the distinct difference in the people living along the coastal areas - many almost hide themselves in the forest environment of tall tightly packed trees, and others cluster into settlements and small towns.

This idea linked up with something I heard on the radio early morning about locusts - because there is a locust plague developing in northern Victoria. The scientist said that normally a locust is a solitary creature not wanting company, but something triggers a response to make it cluster and form huge swarms. Tickling the back of the leg! Bumping into another locust accidently. Seretonin the chemical that makes us happy is the response. Well, locusts are perhaps like people after all. The scientist said the DNA is similar between us and them! So I looked up the topic on the net and came up with this story from the BBC.

Locust swarms 'high' on serotonin
By James Morgan
Science reporter, BBC News

Locusts swarm in gregarious phase
Swarms can devastate crops and cause serious economic hardship

It is one of nature's most radical transformations - the moment a crowd of harmless desert locusts begins to swarm into a devastating plague. Now scientists from the UK and Australia say they have discovered the trigger - the brain chemical serotonin. The molecule is best known in humans as a target of anti-depressant drugs.

The discovery could lead to new control strategies for the pests, which plague 20% of the world's land, they write in Science journal. Desert locusts are known to swarm by the billions, inflicting severe hardship on farmers in parts of Africa, China and other areas.

But the insects actually spend much of their life in a harmless, "solitary" phase.

To find that serotonin is what causes a normally shy, antisocial insect to gang up in huge groups is amazing
Dr Swidbert Ott,
Cambridge University

When food runs short, they slowly become clustered together and enter their "gregarious" phase, culminating in an aggressive swarm. Prior to swarming, the locusts undergo a series of dramatic physical changes - their body colour darkens and their muscles grow stronger. To find out the chemical signal that triggers this metamorphosis, scientists from Oxford University, Cambridge University and Sydney University began monitoring locusts in the laboratory. They triggered the gregarious behaviour by tickling the beasts' hind legs, to simulate the jostling they experience in a crowd. They found that locusts behaving the most gregariously (in swarm-mode) had approximately three times more serotonin in their systems than their calm, solitary comrades.

"The question of how locusts transform their behaviour in this way has puzzled scientists for almost 90 years," said co-author Dr Michael Anstey, from Oxford University. "We knew the [physical] stimuli that cause locusts' amazing Jekyll and Hyde-style transformation. But nobody had been able to identify the changes in the nervous system that turn antisocial locusts into monstrous swarms. Now we finally have the evidence to provide an answer."

The team say their finding opens up a new idea for a locust control strategy - a chemical that inhibits serotonin and thus converts swarming locusts back to their solitary phase.

In humans, by contrast, keeping serotonin levels high is the aim of many anti-depressant drugs. "Serotonin profoundly influences how we humans behave and interact," said co-author Dr Swidbert Ott, from Cambridge University. "So to find that the same chemical is what causes a normally shy, antisocial insect to gang up in huge groups is amazing."

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Small details in a garden

from w.
From the little notebook there are a couple of pages of toadstools/mushrooms that I had once noticed in the garden. Just small details. Then the words drawn with a stick or something into cement many years ago. Perhaps I like to discover small things in a garden and appreciate the spectacles that make clear what the myopia turns to mist. Plus one quick sketch of the manse we lived in for nine years.

Our daily life is filling these days with visitors coming to the house and also occasional drives to catch up with friends we haven't seen for five weeks during Peceli's illness. At Donation in Kind we had a cuppa with the volunteers and met an interesting old guy who's doing 'time' as a volunteer instead of a week in gaol! Why, I asked. He said he refuses to pay parking fines, and one time had a week in Pentridge Gaol rather than pay up. These days, 'community work' is an alternative to gaol for such stubborn people! I asked him what he thought of the election and the response was a lot of vitriol, which was interesting. Well, that's life.

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