This summer has been too long, too hot,too humid and too draining. In Australia the current season has been very fierce with weeks of hot and humid days as well as many fierce fires and storms.No doubt many others, like me, are wishing for an Autumn that might bring cooler days and gentle,refreshing rain and fear that climate change has greatly impacted Natures ability to heal and recover.
Pondering about this much desired change of season, reminded me of these little sprites that were made last year ; tiny beings who indicate that each season has its specific character and tasks necessary for nature to create and replenish.
My muse is nature and when instinctively we synchronise it is such a feeling of wonder and awe. After I finished this piece I took a walk in the garden.
Delighted and surprised to find that almost by magic these had appeared.
An unexpected discovery as it is not the usual season. Perhaps a they are a tiny miracle, or rather an indicator of climate change?
Whatever the reason their delicate beauty masks their ability to thrive, survive and multiply. Mushrooms are powerhouses we do not yet fully understand. Nature is our greatest teacher who asks us to carefully observe,respect,cherish and to protect all that she has so lovingly created and shared..
Reality has taken on a fuzziness, and settling to creating again has taken time. If anything it is not so much a matter of what and how but rather total sensory, physical and emotional overload. Travelling kept presenting so much to absorb and to process that the experience seems to have completely numbed. Just imagine standing in the garden, pictured above, at Hever Castle in England where four thousand rose bushes were in full bloom. That alone presented a sensory extravaganza of epic proportions.
However the first “wow” factor came at the beginning of this trip at the end of May, seeing the green initiatives in Singapore.
Along many roadsides there were cool, shady tunnels of overarching trees. Major roads had large pots planted with trees and shrubs placed in gaps of the laneways. Creepers wrapped around concrete pylons under the overpasses creating small green oases.The Big Wheel emerged from a recreated rain forest that twined around it’s base. It was encouraging to see that attention to detail, to nature, and the environment incorporated as an essential in urban planning.
Many new buildings were innovative in design as well as incorporating live walls of plants, garden terraces on each level and roof top gardens.
Dotted around the city were signs encouraging awareness of the value of green, as well as these characters below who frolicked in the parks and promoted “Love Green”.
Although Singapore has a wonderful Botanic garden housing a legendary orchid collection my main desire was to visit Gardens at the Bay. This project is set up as a dynamic working and teaching resource . There are excellent displays, information, films and models to encourage awareness of climate change in order to encourage and initiate more sustainable practices and lifestyles. Two huge glass domes protect micro climates. One dome area houses a cloud or mist environment. The second dome various gardens to show the different climates and vegetation from all around the planet.
The entire garden itself is a working example of sustainability and interrelationships. Planted in the grounds are several large Super Trees, which are 250 m tall metal trees that harvest and store sunlight and water. At night the trees create a solar powered light display . I wondered if these trees may be the trees of future generations .
Soon after we left Singapore, the city was severely affected by a thick smog from fires lit to burn off large tracts of forests felled in Indonesia. Not even love green could lessen the impact.
Later in the trip., in July this year we came across a “super Flower” planted on the banks of the Danube in Vienna. Seeing this interesting artwork ,a recycled plane propeller, made me wonder again if something like this would become the replacement of wildflowers .
Growing alarm was being raised about the loss of wildflowers and insects in Britain. This situation was felt to be the result of councils spraying and mowing parks, footpaths, and roadside verges as well as modern mono-agricultural practices. The fragility of previously abundant and hardy , seeding and pollen producing plants is linked to the demise of bees and butterflies, a situation that threatens the very existence of all life forms on the planet . We really do need to love green much more.
When the idea for a winter scape comes to mind for our area, creating a snow scene seemed somewhat alien. However winter does bring snow, frost and ice down south in the higher mountain ranges and also in Antarctica, part of which is Australian Territory. Because this piece was a commission for a recipient fascinated by snow and penguins the idea of trying to create a scape representing Antarctica seemed feasible at first, even easy.
As it has turned out this has been one of the most difficult projects so far attempted. White and lots of it is flat, dull, uninspiring. The challenge to encapsulate the essence of a continent covered in snow and permafrost, barren to all appearances yet vast, wild and home to millions of sea creatures was both exhilarating and daunting. Such an extreme and beautiful place had to be reduced to a very small scale with the added restraint of using warm, wool felt to portray this freezing climate. It seemed a crazy and impossible notion.
Using pure white just did not work, nor did some of my original ideas. Instead of a flat base this piece required sculpting from very hard industrial felt that resulted in bleeding fingers. For some time nothing worked and it was poked away .
The breakthrough came when my friend Mia bought some of her wonderful splotchy felt that she hand dyes to craft. Splotchy felt is perfect to use for water. As I placed a piece down to make the sea it seemed that it could create a cold effect when used in the scene. This lovely felt was the missing link and helped to give the illusion of shadows and crevices, as well as to introduce the blue tones connected with the continent.
Even so the scene was still dull and lifeless, requiring the glisten that snow has as the light dances over it. This came through using a shimmery organza to make an ice sheet with sparing application of silver glitter.
Iconic Emperor Penguins were used to represent the species that use this incredible area to raise their young. As the Emperor penguin is found over the entire continent it seemed the right creature to place in this setting and to also indicate that even in such a harsh environment life can exist.
This environment is fragile and threatened. The ice cap is melting because air and sea temperatures are rising. As a consequence so will sea levels. This will have a far ranging impact on other continents as well as the potential for many species to face extinction.
Antarctica is a place that has attracted and fascinated scientists for many years with considerable research being undertaken. Let us hope this is not in vain and the warning signals will be heeded and, more importantly, that significant action is taken immediately on a global scale.