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.