Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Butterfly effect

This year saw a friend coordinating a community based mosaic project called the Butterfly Effect. The final work I contributed to the opening exhibition was a two panelled piece showing the caleterpillar of the Swallowtail Butterfly. Strange how something haunts you. Since wortking on this moasaic I have come across numerous reproductions of not only the Swallowtail Butterfly but also the caterpillar. Incredible. Have included a work in progress and th fnal piece just before mounting it onto garden pavers and grouting it.


Realised that I hadnt shared a photo of the final version of the ring tailed lemurs yet, so here it is. Titled Troop of Trouble, this piece was exhibited in the MAANZ 30:30 exhibition this year. Made of smalti (gret, white and black sections) and vitreous glass tile, the work measures 30cm x 30cm. Theme for the show was a "pattern from nature with a minimum of five repetitions."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kings Beach sunrise

Where in the world would you rather be at this moment? It really is so beautiful here. Dudley's Mum showed a great spot for watching the sunrise, so I ventured forth this morning camera in hand to see what I could find. Beautiful morning, but very cloudy. Not what I was expecting perhaps, but equally beautiful.

Walked the length of the beach again, looking at the totems, collecting shells and small fragments of coral. Found the shell seekers dream idea what type of shell it is, but gorgeous colours and in perfect condition. No little animal residing within so it is now with me to return to Brisbane as a memento.

Met a guy with his son, walking with a three legged Jack Russell. They don't know his name, he accompanied them from the caravan park where they are staying. From Glouchester, they are in Bowen for a couple of weeks. Got talking as you do and they are going to come to the iPad training session at the library this return, fresh coconut for me to try. Love this lifestyle, and how welcoming people are.

Got to go twilight sailing. Totally not what I expected. We were racing 4 other boats, which translates as we were moving. None of this sedate waltz across the water that I might have been expecting. At times we were side on in the water, so close you could dip a toe in, all the while racing. Even with a handicap to allow for our old girls sedate pace, we were never going to win, but as far as experiences go, the absolute best. Surprised myself by not getting sea sick too. Very proud of that fact, as I had no idea whether I had sea legs or not. It was exhilarating, laugh out loud stuff. The best! So thanks go to our host who really did look like an old style sea dog.

Bowen totems

On Kings Beach, along the high tide mark there are a series of totems. I like to think that someone or something tiptoes in during the wee hours of the morning to create these unique little pieces. Made entirely from found objects washed up on the shoreline, they are constructed quite simply, and so beautifully, with driftwood, pieces of coral, seaweed and other pieces of marine treasure. There are half a dozen or so of them, marking the boundary of this little piece of heaven on earth. So simple, yet they speak volumes. The best in earth art.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bowen is a must see

Well, day two in Bowen underway with walk along Rose Bay. Headed that way as the map said it was dog off lease. Dudley and Delilah's Mum adopted me so we wales the length of the beach talking and laughing at dog antics as you dog. Was greeted with warmth by the dogs, mostly due to lingering scents of Willow and Cinque I am sure. Beautiful beach, with it taking a good hour to walk the length of the bay and a fast pace. This city girls feet could hardly keep up tiptoeing through the shells and coral.

Another highlight was seeing beach "totems" apparently someone local makes them from time to time along the high tide line. Each one is unique and they could sit happily at Swell, the beach sculpture exhibition at Cummrrumbin each year. Made of natural objects, they flow back into the environment as time takes it's toll. Beautiful moment to see them as sentinels of the beach. The tiny little birds scurrying along the waterline are sweet too. So small, that at first I thought they were crabs. Dudley's Mum said they call them "sand skippers".

For me so far Bowen has been full of little moments like this. Yesterday's was seeing this little thing hop out from under a shrub. Initially I thought it was a small (very small) wallaby or native rat, but as it hoppity hopped across in front of me I realized my mistake. First siting of a Bower Bird and one happy girl later....not sure where he was off to, but I was thrilled to see him. Also saw Black Cockatoos (of the red tailed variety) so that was pretty amazing too. Should see the mess under the tree they are feeding in....they obviously break of the blossom and tips of the branches as they work their way through breakfast, so there was foliage all over the ground. Have only seen these birds once before. In Brisbane of all places during a drought so it was great to see them in their natural habitat.

So far, other than the humidity am enjoying what Bowen has to offer....foggy glasses though is something I don't enjoy. Not to mention that for me it is downright dangerous.

Fingers crossed as tonight we have been invited twilight sailing. Assuming the weather holds. Big storm late yesterday, so we need a breeze, but not a storm.

Launch of the Summer Reading Club Amazing Read Program today at the library so am looking forward to that.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Air ace

I am working on a project with colleagues to develop "sets" of images from our collections at the State Library of Queensland to share via Flickr Commons. As the result of a mid week training session I was inspired to develop a series of images of "Fancy Dress", then went on to curate a second set "Pet Parade". Not sure when they will go live, but this little boy, named Cyril Stanners, will give you a feel for what to expect. I can only imagine how much effort went into devising and making this costume and prop. Also to come, a gorgeous "bunny" and a very willing tortoise.

...because it is so beautiful

A friend has a Dad who grows the most beautiful flowers. Luckily for us he shares them, so from time to time she brings a bunch in to work to be admired by everyone. These dahlias hit the spot for me in what had been a really busy day. So, beautiful I just had to share them.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Work in progress

The working title for this little owl is Baby Blue. You can probably see why. I have been wanting to use this particular vintage china for a while, just wasn't sure which project it was on standby for, then it hit me. So far I am quite happy with how he is coming along What is not evident from the photo of a work in progress is that his side plumage is quite textured and three dimensional. At least that is the plan so far. That said, this little guy will probably develop further before he hits his final look - time will tell. He is worked over a ceramic base, using flexible acrycli adhesive so might yet wing his way to a garden near you.

Stephen Wiltshire draws Brisbane

I am in awe of this man. His talent, his way of working and his ability to excel in a world from which he is isolated. He has made a place for himself, a safe haven from which he comments on what he sees, guided by supportive family. What a talent and what a way to share it. He truly is unique and so inspiring. I am honoured to have seen him create his art. I was breathless from the encounter. Hope you enjoyed Brisbane Stephen and hope you finally got up in that helicopter.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Professional Developement Program

After all of the planning the CLS Professional Development Program is under way, with 26 staff from regional public libraries in Brisbane for the week. From as far afield as Julia Creek, Hughenden, Winton, Quilpie, Cloncurry and Charters Towers. All very exciting with lots of discussion and debate as result of the morning sessions already. Add bonus was Suzy from Riverbend Books supplementing my Christmas reading list. The mailing list for Riverbend will show a spike in new members after today.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The hare with the amber eyes

This is the February recommendation for book club....has 94 holds on it at the library. Ho hum, so decided to find out a little more for myself.

My initial reception is that I will find something of interest in reading it....I did after all bring a little wooden mouse on a walnut back from the Shanghai Museum. Pity it isn't genuine netsuke....or the Chinese equivalent. I do like it though. Will let you know what I thin about Edmund de Waal's book when I get hold of a copy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Well done to us....we finally got book club up and running. Not only did it go well, we excelled our expectations which is wonderful. 5 out of the 6 invitees made it. We dined on chicken, exotic salads and potato bake - none of us being brave enough to try the Potato Peel Pie, which from all accounts is pretty dire. No need for such authenticity in our little group. Thank goodness for that. Most of us had re-read the book specificially for book club discussion and discuss it we did. A fun night was had by all, with lots of laughs, some learning and much discussion. Other titles and dates have now been booked in, so it looks like our club finally has wings.

We even have a name now too: CHARLES Chapel Hill and Reservoir Literary Exploration Society known amongst friends as Charlie's Angels.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stephen Wiltshire at SLQ

Can't believe how excited I am to hear that Stephen Wiltshire is going to "draw Brisbane" from a base at SLQ. For those of you that can I encourage you to come and see how incredible this guy is. Saw a doco on him some time ago and never forgot the impact. This truly is a world class event, happening on our doorstep. A TED event no less.

Check out the details at

Then make sure you come and observe this special event in person. I'll be there.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The First Grader

This has to be the pick of current movies. At times so heart jarring I couldn't watch, at others the courage shown made me truly remember what it is to teach and the beauty in learning. A truly beautiful film, that not all will see, but those who do will remember it for a long time. The message it delivers is heartfelt.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Am now in Kingaroy. The drive from Brisbane was beautiful with the countryside quite different from that I have traversed of late. Very green and much softer. Not sure that "soft" is a word used too often to describe landscape, but it suits, so for the moment will suffice. Not as much wildlife or livestock, but a couple of quaint little townships passed through. It is easy to see how when a by pass road is put in place some of the little rural villages are impacted. The other point of interest was that although Tarong Power Station and a mine were signposted, they must be located far enough off the road to be out of view. As for the fame of Bethany - the landholding of the Bjelke Petersen family, there is Bethany Rd, "to" Bethany and Bethany Bed and Breakfast signs. That said, while peanuts are well in evidence I have not yet been offered a pumpkin scone. Not a bad thing in my book.

I am beginning to get a feel for life in regional Queensland and would like to think that if the need ever arose I would not only fit in, but would thrive as a countrygirl. That said, it is easy to develop a fondness for some regional communities versus others. Goondiwindi rates as the most picturesque community I have visited so far, but Winton, Hughenden and Charleville all had elements I could relate to. My benchmark for being able to live somewhere remote seems to have developed into the basic requirement of having a bakery and a library. When you consider that I can cook quite well and that I always have a mountain of books on hand this is interesting. It must be more about the sense of place and heart within the community and perhaps this is why the library being the hub of the town and the smell of fresh baked bread appeals.


Not sure whether this is technically classed as a collective noun, but you have to love the descriptive feel when you say this word out loud. It truly does capture the feel of the movement of the action underway. Something tellsmme this would be a close to silent manouvre too which just adds to the mystique.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Possum snug update

Am working madly on developing a pattern suitable for reproducing this snug - tried and tested by Pocahontas. Will post it if I can get it right, so much easier just making it than trying to analyse what I am doing.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hughenden trip

Home safe so trying to play catch up with everything that accumulates while you are away. Washing, jobs, documenting photos taken and trying to get to Sydney for the next leg in a busy couple of weeks travel. Problem is Qantas is not playing nice, so my flight has been cancelled and I am still in Brisbane. Perhaps better luck tomorrow, time will tell. Problem is I am running out of options if I want to make it to the training course I am meant to attend. 8.30 registration for 9.00am kick off. Not looking good.

Thought I would share a photo or two with you. Woofie and Porcupine Gorge - you can work out which is which.

Fingers crossed that I travel tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Possum snug

Forgot to mention the thing inspiring me at the moment....possum snugs. The Courier Mail ran a story in the Saturday paper a couple of weeks back and mentioned that this is the time of year that possum rescue picks up. As a result there is increased need for possum pouches. Each rescued possum is allocated a pouch, which goes with them as they go into foster care. A pattern was provided for those that can knit or crochet - given I can't knit to save my life, I decided to give the crochet a go. Problem is that I soon regected the pattern supplied and decided to design my own version - hence the possum snug. This provides a more secure base for little possum bottoms and toes, and gives more support and snuggle capacity as the snug is made in the round, as opposed to a rectangle. While it seemed logical to me I still felt the need to test the product so as soon as I had a prototype I needed a test possum to give it the seal of approval. One phone call later and I had made arrangements to visit a local possum carer. If you don't know the work these band of supporters engage in, here's the short version. As abandoned and rescued possums (brush tails and ringtails) are brought in, they are cared for by these wonderful people. Little pink " jellybeans" need care 24/7. Babies with fur need different care. Feeding, watering, cleaning and foliage collection are just some of what is required. Our visit, yes two friends begged to come along, saw us meeting 6 possums currently in care. Including "Pocahontas" a young male brushy - still new to being handled he jumped straight into the snug with minimal encouragement, turned himself around and latched onto my finger. Ouch. Some time later, after many cuddles, a piece of banana and much lip smacking later, he decided the snug (and the people attached to it) were ok after all. After some minor design modifications and discussions about the benefits of varied sizes - including a double bunk option for a pair of ringtails we left with big smiles and happy hearts. Minus one possum snug. As far as I am aware Pocahontas is still snuggled up in it.

Since then I have put out the call for wool (not acrylic) and I have more than I can cope with, so am now recruiting friends to start making pouches and snugs. Amazing what can be achieved from one idea and support from like minded people. I am now working on snug number 4 and am writing a pattern for my snug design. I will try to share this with you soon.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Still in Hughenden

Highlight for me so far has to be meeting Woofie. A white Irish Wolfhound, not only is he handsome, but placid too. Perfect combination in a dog and pretty essential for one that is 65kgs. He could walk me if he wanted too. Luckily for me his owner runs the library in town, given that is where we are based for the week it has been easy to steal him bright and early each morning. We walk for about an hour and both of us arrive back hot, sweaty and smiling. Word of warning - once this boy has a drink, stand clear.

One thing which is guaranteed is that this guy is certainly a talking point, a great way to meet the locals. That said, apparently I am currently classified as "fresh meat" a first for me. Might be enough to make me become a vegetarian.

The accommodation where we are is pretty basic. Apparently the posh Royal Motel Resort was booked out, as was the venue of choice for visiting Police officers, the Easi Rest. I do however have the most posh toilet seat in all of Hughenden. It is midnight blue with silver glitter. As for the room, no glitter, glam or gloss anywhere. Very basic, but clean.....and an improvement on Bedourie. I am still scarred from the Bedourie experience, except perhaps for the wonder of the night sky. This was incredible, and better even than the Cosmos Centre at Charleville. The Cosmos is in a $5million dollar building with a retractable roof. Worth a visit to view globula clusters through any one of three $30 000 telescopes, but again, for me the best experience was lying on the floor and looking directly at the night sky.

We are working through online databases today, then hope to get away this afternoon to visit Porcupine Gorge. More on that later. Suffice to say that I have the camera fully charged. Apparently the local name for this natural wonder is Hughenden's Little Grand Canyon. Will share photos as soon as I can.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Well, we made it through to Hughenden after spending the day in Julia Creek with Chris at the library. Can't speak highly enough of what Chris is achieving there with the local community. The rapport she has built up is obvious to see with a steady flow of visitors throughout the day. Some come on library business like the itinerant guy that borrows donations. Others pop in to say hi or pass on info. One came in for a dress fitting. Multiple skilled Chris really does make the library the centre of a small but passionate community. The building itself is bright and welcoming, and with two access points it would be hard to find an excuse to walk right by without stopping in. Jennie and I did training with the iPad and Daisy reader, then took Chris to lunch. Only challenge was that with it being Monday the best pub wasn't serving food. It should be noted though that there was a very friendly (and very round) Staffy that was quick to adopt me as it's personal patting machine. Once we realized there was no food to be had we redirected our steps to the other pub in town (got to love country towns and their penchants for multiple watering holes) and were able tom order lunch. The resident dog was not allowed inside, though he did smile nicely for his photo. Will share it at some stage. A good addition to my "dogs of Western Queensland" portfolio. Under normal circumstances my lunch would have rated a 9 out of 10. Unfortunately the chef drowned the salad with salt and pepper squid in some mayonnaise styled goop rendering the meal almost inedible. Such a shame. We took this as a sign and packed our training gear and headed off to Hughenden. With a trip of approx three hours we decided to break our journey at Richmond. Being safe long distance drivers we stretched our legs, had a look around and changed drivers. Biggest disappointment for me was that Tourist Radio station 88.0 FM had talked up a visit to Kronosaur Korner as being a "must see" in Richmond with cakes with fresh cream being the major draw card. Only thing was that when we arrived at 3.30pm the Moon Rock Cafe was closing and we had to leave without cream cakes or a cold drink. The local IGA had neither Coke nor Gatorade so it was lucky I knew how to find my way back to the BP. One bonus of having Jennie navigate is that we do a tourof town trying tof find where we are going so we soon do a lap of the entire town. Better leave it there. At the Council Chambers for the day so lots to do.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Who would have thought?

Left Brisbane this morning to fly to Mt Isa. Note to self - Mt Isa is dead on a Sunday afternoon. Not much happening, even less noticeable in shopping centre so we ended up at McDonald's to refuel before driving 120km's to Cloncurry. Kevin, who looked like he was all of 12 years old,served us, then we hit the road. Cloncurry is small, but people seem nice. We finally found our accommodation, only to see a sign redirecting us to the Wagon Wheel Hotel. Yes, we had passed this on our way through town and I had to swallow my disparaging marks as I realized that it was 5 star compared to the Cloncurry Motel. Luckily for us, some quirk of accommodation booking saw our reservation at the Wagon Wheel not the Cloncurry. Phew - can only be described as a lucky escape. A couple of gentlemen helped carry our bags and gave parking advice. Apparently the tree I parked under regularly drops sticky goop onto vehicles. These same guys got bumped to let some new reservations have rooms in The Wagon Wheel. Oops. Had a surprisingly good meal at the restaurant and an icy cold beer. Nothing else in Cloncurry open on a Sunday, except perhaps the Bowls Club which seems to be part of the same property. Go figure. Then watched the Union - World Cup. Kiwis beat France by one point! better luck next year. Now it's raining, pouring in fact. Incredible.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Wives of Henry Oades

Further to the dilemma of book clubs. How exactly do you make a selection? How do you in fact agree on a suitable title? Options include - based on peer review, library staff recommendations, online advice or even choosing a title with an interesting cover. There are challenges inherent in the latter approach. Take the case of The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran The cover on the copy I have on loan from the local library is a beautifully rendered graphic of a tall ship afloat upon a wavy sea. With a story set in the 1800's, with characters travelling from the UK, to the USA via New Zealand this is in fact quite apt. Or there is the alternative. Now, I wonder which I would select if both were on offer. Would the offer of story as suggested by the second title leave me disappointed? Something to think about.

Book Club Musings

A group of us in the local area have talked about starting a book club - and talked. To date we have yet to actually meet to coordinate anything formal. In the interim, we talk about starting the book club, we decide on who should join the book club and the pros and cons of numbers. But still we wait. What for, I am not quite sure. Meanwhile we continue to talk - often about the books that we are currently reading, or those that might make good book club material....we talk and talk some more, enjoying the companionship. The main complaint I hear from other members of book clubs is that when the group gets together it is more often for food and companionship than to discuss the book of the month. Where is the problem with that? Sounds like progress to me.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Boulia Bound

Have headed to Boulia for work - an amazing experience to date. Flew to Mt Isa this morning then after picking up the hire car drove approx 3 hours to Boulia. On arriving I was amazed to see that it is actually a shorter distance to Adelaide (yes, the Adelaide in South Australia) than it is to Brisbane. Incredible. A definate highlight for me was seeing what could only have been a wedge tailed eagle straddling some road kill in the company of some crows. Amazing to say the least. This bird was huge - his wing span was as wide as me with widespread arms, his body the size of a small child. As for his legs, it looked like he had woolly ugg boots on. I kid you not. A shy retiring fellow he retreated as we pulled the car up, proceeding to watch us for some minutes before deciding that retreat was the best option. Watching this giant get airborn from the ground was a sight to behold.

After some challenges with accommodation and luggage it was good to get to our destination and get settled. A lap of the main street showed the location of the Post Office, Supermarket, Library and Min Min Encounter. Arriving just in time for the 4.00pm show we thought long and hard about undertaking the min min experience, finally deciding against it. For today at least. A hard decision at the best of times.

Advice from our hosts for the evening suggested two options for dinner. The local service station, or the Australia Hotel. Needless to say we went with the latter, booking in for the 7.00pm sitting to allow for the fact that the 6.30 session was booked out. Popular place the Australia Hotel on a Monday night. Go figure. On arrival I asked for the wine menu, to be advised that not only was there no wine list - there was one red to choose from. A Berri Estate Soft Dry Red. From a cask and chilled. Delightful. What the wine left to be desired was made up for by the food. Grilled fish being off the menu (as were the chops and local pork sausage) I decided on the chicken parmigiana. Have to say it was more like a pizza with cheese, mushroom and capsicum instead of the usual tomato and cheese sauce....but it was great. Vegies and mash weren't bad either - with the mash full of butter just like my Nanna used to make. All in all an entertaining day.

I wonder what day two holds in store.

I love this photo - a dog matiently waiting while his mistress takes care of business in the Birdsville Information Centre and Library.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Long weekend - another one

Am finally making some progress on the lemurs - Easter long weekends are wonderful for time at home. With another long weekend coming up, who knows, I might make it to face number 3. Let me know what you think - although I guess it is a bit tricky with no eyes yet inserted.

Oops - apologies for the fact these guys are monkeying around and refuse to go right way up.

Social Media

I attended the if:Book - The Reader conference yesterday and the message of the moment was to use social media like Twitter and Facebook and make it work for you, but that interaction needs to be genuine and work both ways. So, being determined to give them both another chance - lets face it I "talk" too much to be contained by 140 characters - I put a message on Facebook announcing the launch of my revamped website. Guess what - lots of great comments and a new follower on my blog! Whoo hoo! Have always loved the blog because I can "talk" to my hearts content. So, thanks CC. Anyway if you haven't yet seen the web site check it out at

Monday, March 14, 2011

A huddle of Lemurs

Actually the collective noun for a group of lemurs is a troop. These guys however will definately be huddling by the time I finish with them. I thought I would try to do a little work in progress overview - of my planned entry in the next MAANZ symposium exhibition.
The theme this time is a pattern from nature with a minimum repitition of 5, with the size being the standard 30cm x 30cm as for previous competitions. Anyway so long as I am happy with the outcome this will be my entry. Time will tell.
Already I am challenged because I have started to work this in the reverse sequence to usual. That is, I worked the background first. I figured it would be too difficult to lay the background in later so have completed it - mosaic and grout, and am now working the lemurs. Not sure yet whether it will turn out how I am imagining but I guess I wont know until I give it a go. I just knew that I wanted to focus on the little fluffy hair on these guys ears and heads so the work had to overlay the background. You can see from my sketch I am no artist.
As for the little Rainbow Lorikeets I am working this piece predominantly in smalti. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pamela's crocodile

One of the great things about being involved with MAANZ is that you get the opportunity to share expertise, knowledge and learning. The Queensland group is currently involved in producing a series of 20 panels to contribute to Pamela Irving's Patterson Station Project. Intended to populate a dull concrete rail underpass, in Melbourne, the panels are themed "Community". Thanks to the talented Heddy we are now working on a "portrait" of a Queenslander, made up of various elements of iconic Queenslandiana. The individual panels are starting to come together, and I can only imagine the overall impact of the completed series. Thought I would share the panel that I am working on. This is as close to finished as it gets - given it will travel to Melbourne as is and will only be grouted after installation. Tried to make Mr Crocodile look as friendly as possible.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spoilt girl

You have to love friends - a group of us got together to celebrate a recent birthday. We had an Italian feast which included this gorgeous antipasto platter. Believe me it tasted every bit as good as it looked! Sorry I can only share the image with you. Fresh figs and proscuitto with toasted ciabbata - also a choice of smoked or Sicilian olives. Naturally I had to try both. This was followed, if you can believe it, by hand made pasta with basil and cherry tomatoes, then marinated chicken with broccoli, and then the piece de resistance (not sure what the Italian equivalent for this very apt French term is) Panacotte with balsamic strawberries. Of course, keeping with tradition we drank Italian Aperol and bubbles. Yum yum.....oh I almost forgot, Florentines and Amoretti (?) with coffee. Big hugs to my girl friends who helped me to celebrate in such style.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rosie Roo Gum Boots

I guess this is better late than image of my gum boots, post Brisbane Floods. I couldn't work out how to retrospectively add an image to a previous blog, so if you want to see the text that goes with this image go back a couple of blog entries to the one on the Brisbane Floods and see what it is all about. Smiles.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Silent witness

Late one afternoon on my trip to Barcaldine we saw a mob of kangaroos resting in a paddock. Not having the right camera lense with me the roos were a speck in the distance of the photo I took. That's what comes of being a photographic novice - perhaps I should stick to mosaic.

I decided to return early next morning in the hope that the kangaroos would again be on view. Arriving before 6.00am I found the proof that my idea had been good, but the implementation lacked in the timing department. These fresh kangaroo tracks show that they had indeed been there, but that the roos had gone off seeking adventure prior to my arrival.

The long tracks at the top of the photo are made by the kangaroo's rear feet whilst the smaller "handprints" are from the shorter front legs. Tracks like these would be made when a kangaroo is travelling slowly - at this time they using a shuffling motion, placing their front paws onto the ground for balance as they bring their hind legs forward.

Beauty in nature

One of the things I loved about my trip to Central Western Queensland late last year was the beauty of the natural landscape. I was in awe of the vastness of the skies, the wide sweeping landscape, with clouds low on the horizon. Early morning was a wonderful time to walk - to beat the heat of the day and to see the local bird populations. During our visit we saw emus with chicks (the males undertake the primary care role) short billed corellas including the acrobat shown above, sulphur crested cockatoos, crested pidgeon, pelicans and other birds I am yet to identify. The stark contrast between the plumage of the birds and the sky is inspiring.

Rainbow Lorikeets

Working on Where’s Alice? provided an opportunity to work with Italian smalti. This was really the first time that I had the chance to use this traditional material. The technique too was a departure from how I generally work, so this also made me push the limits of my usual comfort zone. I think this stemmed from being presented the opportunity to have some material framed – my prize awarded to Where’s Alice? being a framing voucher. So, once my brain started grappling with how can I best present a mosaic for framing, the departure to producing a non-grouted work was easy. Hence the smalti, hence the new style of working.

Inspiration for these little lorikeets came from a friend who is a wonderful photographer. Her specialty…birds. Coincidentally my current subject of choice seems to be birds. Perfect match. The two little birds that this work is based on flew in to shelter during a storm and perched on her veranda. Truly dishevelled and wet, these guys sat out the storm, then departed from whence they came. I just feel privileged to have been able to capture their portrait.
Apologies for the blue hue - the background board is actually purple, somehow the iphone adjusted the colour when I zoomed in close to get the detail.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A sign of things to come

In October 2010, I travelled to Winton, Longreach, Barcaldine and Blackall for work. Out of the 8 libraries and Councils that I was scheduled to visit I made it to only 5. You guessed it, flooding out West impacted on access so our travel plans were changed dramatically.
The second image shows the road leading out of Barcaldine (main road to Longreach) 48 hours after it had been closed. Now passable, the level of the water is just dropping.
The first image shows a brave local crossing the river from the Tambo side of town into Blackall. Needless to say this city girl never made it to Tambo....or Jundah....or Isisford.
During this trip I saw my first "road train" - a truck 3 semi trailers long - and passed it, and drove through my first water over a road hazzard....and survived it all safely.

Look for yourself

While there are a lot of images of the devastation of the Brisbane Floods doing the rounds, for me the sight that best shows the extent of coverage of water is the ABC's Before and After images.

This link is amazing – it shows a lot of the suburbs around my side of town, the Western Suburbs and will give a clear indication of the scale of this saga. For those that know it, Suncorp Stadium was filled with 2 metres of water! The suburbs of Rosalie, Toowong, South Bank (20 mins with no traffic), Milton, Chelmer, Rocklea, Fairfield are all within 15 minutes drive time from my home.

Water, water, everywhere

I have to wonder how many pairs of trendy, designer Rosie Roo gum boots made their debut in the Brisbane flood recovery project. I know mine did….pastel paisley to be exact. Until that point I had dabbled in them during a shower of rain at the local dog park, and even ventured forth and wore them to work a couple of days when the rain saw me swimming to the bus stop and work. Never would I have predicted that they would see so much mud or indeed how they would hold up to the pressure of the gurney blasting mud from them at the end of each days hard slog cleaning.

I think that I, like most people I speak to, am still in shock at just what has happened, and the impact it has had on so many people. Not only my home town of Brisbane, but huge tracts of the State of Queensland have been, or still are, under water. It really is indescribable. Now Victoria has joined in and it too is underwater.

Whilst I am thankful that my home and possessions have escaped the deluge I am fully aware that many people are not so lucky. Never again will I complain as I puff up the hill as I trudge home from the bus stop, or struggle up the drive way with my wheelie bin in hand. The loss and devastation is overwhelming. People have lost their entire homes, their possessions, their pets, and in the worst cases, loved ones. What remains are the memories, and I would hope the support, compassion and love of the thousands of people who have given of their time, skill and equipment to help turn this catastrophe around. This is what will be the base that enables people to start rebuilding their lives.

For me personally the full effect of this disaster hit home Friday 14 January. Having been sent home from work on Tuesday 11 January, I had, after three days of watching events unfold on the television, decided that I needed to be out “doing” rather than sitting at home “watching”.

Decision made, I hooked up with two friends (M and C), and we filled the car with everything we thought might possibly be of use and headed off. This included mops, buckets, brooms, garbage bags, disinfectant, gloves etc. The original plan was to help a friend of M’s. Living at Indooroopilly, she was in a high risk zone, After being accosted by a seriously grumpy, but I can only imagine well intentioned, man at the top of the street barking at us that “day trippers were not welcome” we arrived to find no one home. After some neat detective work, that involved an unmarked police car whose occupants also thought we were up to no good – we established that the friend had actually not lived at the property for some months, and the current occupants required no assistance. So, being ever resourceful we crossed the road, introduced ourselves to a young couple there and offered our services. 1 collapsed ceiling Flood water reached the eaves of the roof), 6 hours and 1000 000 gallons of mud later (yes, I exaggerate, but it seemed like a mountain of mud) we left feeling that we had contributed to the relief effort and had shown these ex Tasmanians a little bit of true Brisbane spirit.

The remainder of the week was spent helping friends who live at Graceville. The wonderful river walk we took early on New Year’s Eve now came to us, with water inundating the lower level of their home. Luckier than some, the main living spaces upstairs remained out of reach of the water, however a home based business and various storage and workshop areas were submerged. 4 days later, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The reality however is that these friends, along with all of those affected will take months to regain their balance in life after an event of such magnitude.

Again, the kindness of strangers was inspiring with people coming to work alongside us from as far away as the Gold Coast. People got down and dirty, and those unable to assist with the heavy work of cleaning and removal of sodden household items and furniture turned their hands to supplying workers with an endless supply of sandwiches, cake, cookies and cold drinks. The RACQ (Royal Automobile Club QLD) earnt brownie points by driving around the neighbourhood delivering ice cold bottles of water and Mars bars.

The sight that really gave me goose bumps however was when we were driving out of the street at the end of a long day of hard work – to see that one of the neighbours had erected a huge banner in a tall gum tree that proudly announced “THANK YOU” in metre high letters. In bright pink letters, it showed that our efforts were appreciated and for me that was more than enough.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where is Alice?

It is officially the wettest Spring and wettest Summer on record, here in Brisbane. So, what do you do when it is too wet to go out and play? Mosaic of course. With my project for the MAANZ show finished, exhibition launched and time on my hands over Christmas it was natural to turn to more mosaic, in between the reading, dog walking and DVD watching.

So, the white rabbit aka Where is Alice? - my official contribtuion to the MAANZ show, has now been joined by two little rainbow lorikeets. Hope to share these with you soon.