On being part of the crowd

Almost all of the exhibitions I’ve been in have been group exhibitions. My work stands on it’s own in amidst other artists work. Sometimes there is a theme – and sometimes there isn’t. However two of the exhibitions I’ve been involved with are different. My work has been part of a project as well as part of an exhibition. The first was the Bimblebox 153 Birds exhibition, and the second is The Moth Migration Project.

  • Bimblebox 153 Birds at Gladstone Regional Gallery from 1st March to 30th March, 2019.
  • The Moth Migration Project at the Gympie Regional Gallery, Gympie from 26th April to 22nd June, 2019 and also at Bundaberg Regional Gallery, Bundaberg at the same time. Yes – there are plenty of moths.

Bimblebox 153 Birds

I’ve very much enjoyed being part of this project which was organised by artist and environmentalist Jill Sampson to raise awareness of the fragility of the future of the Bimblebox Reserve in the Alpha region of Queensland due to coal mining threats. 153 species of birds were recorded as using the habitat so 153 printmakers were allocated a bird species to produce a print for the exhibition. Since then a few more species have been identified, and a few more artists (including Reg Mombasa) have contributed.

That probably would have been enough – but Jill didn’t stop there. She found musicians that would transpose bird calls into music (some melodic – others rather raucous), and also coerced 153 writers to not only write, but produce an audio piece for each bird species. This has made for a somewhat intriguing and unique travelling exhibition.

Back in 2014 I was allocated the Straw-necked Ibis. I’d just done a few derogatory works relating to the absolute mess the Australian Ibis was making in the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens. I did do a bit of research and at least became more conciliatory regarding the birds needing a habitat! John and I were going south with the caravan – so a chance to see the Straw-necked Ibis was on the cards at Mother of Ducks lagoon, Guyra. The lagoon proved to be almost totally dry and not an ibis in sight. At Dorrigo there were hundreds – until I got the camera out and they all took off en mass so plenty of ibis, but no pictures. Some weeks later we arrived home and guess what was in the backyard. A straw-necked Ibis! I grabbed the camera, got my pics, worked up a design and made my linocut, printed it and put it in the post.

My Straw-necked Ibis, linocut on Fabriano Rosaspina paper

Since then my bird has been flying around with it’s other 153 plus friends – first to Kedron, then Brisbane, then Gympie and then to Maleny. The current exhibition at Gladstone is the first one that I haven’t been able to get to – I almost feel that I am letting my bird down.

The Moth Migration Project

The Moth Migration project is organised by New York artist Hilary Lorenz. I was quite excited to see that the moths were coming to Australia so decided to contribute. The second exciting aspect was that the exhibition would be at Gympie – just an hours drive from home. This is more of an international project as a proliferation of paper moths from 26 countries have been exhibited in the UK, USA, Canada and now Australia.

At this stage over 15,000 paper moths have been made by artists, school children, uni students, and community groups. It is a two pronged project – community involvement and art/science as teachers use the project to teach drawing/printmaking skills as well as point out the ecological importance of these night pollinators.

My moths are linoprints on Zerkall paper. One is based on the Alcides metaurus and the other on the Metallica moth which are both found in Queensland – even one of the latter on my doorstep last week. They too have been popped in the post and probably in Gympie by now.

People tend to base your art on whether or not you can sell it. There is no selling in these projects, however there is also something basically pleasurable in being involved in participatory art.

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