Monday, May 07, 2007

Mania in the Mangroves

My spare time is limited these days. I've mentioned I'm doing a course but I've never said what. It's a Bachelor of Arts (Art) (online delivery through Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia) and I'm loving it. Any spare time I have is swallowed greedily up by the exercises for the units I'm doing. I'm currently getting close to the end of a drawing unit and a textile unit. The textiles unit has been a big surprise. It has involved a lot of installation art and 3D work (as well as work with actual textiles!) I've been working with the themes 'time' and 'space' and a beautiful patch of sand down behind my house next to the mangrove trees where their aerial roots rise up to breath.

Here I'm playing with the tide itself, first creating a hole in the tide by using the low tide mark inside a glass cylinder at high tide...

and then creating a cylinder of high tide water at low tide.

Then I needed to create another installation using only what lay within my area of sand. I stood all the hermit crab shells up vertically to mirror the extreme verticallity of the aerial roots.

I also played with the photos of my site in Photoshop, changing the roots into lush grass and the trees into spectacular autumn trees in a fabulous garden.

This gave me another idea...

Mangrove areas are vital to ocean ecology. Most ocean fish are born in mangroves. But mangroves are often not valued by humans who sometimes think of them as dirty (they collect our rubbish in those spikey roots), inaccessible and a waste of good waterfront real estate. I thought of the cute endangered animals who end up with droves of humans championing their cause while more unappealing animals slowly fade away. I wondered if mangroves were more cute and/or appealing, if we wouldn't look after them better.

With these concepts in mind I collected leaves from the nearby trees (nice healthy ones with no blemishes because we humans like that) and attached them to the tip of the aerial roots to make a faux lawn area. Why? To indicate that if mangroves were more human-friendly we might look after them by default, the way we look after vegetation or animals that serve us well.

P.S. I've played with these images in my recently downloaded drag & drop widget on my new Mac. What do you think? Is it a good tool, or are the images too small?


shirley said...

I'm fascinated with your photos and the description of your project. I can't wait to see how these ideas spread to textiles and your sketchbook journal. Please keep sharing your progress with the mangroves - I for one learned so much!

Erica said...

I share your interest in mangroves, I think they make wonderful art subjects and am also looking forward to see what you do with them - although I had the wicked thought that if you make them too appealing there will be someone wanting to take to them with the mower and lawn blower LOL

the photos are a good size for blog viewing

could I ask - is the Curtin course all on-line/distance learning or do you have to front up at some stage for some face to face lectures/interviews.

Jan said...

Erica, the course is all online, no interviews, no residentials, you don't have to turn up until you collect your degree, and even then, only if you want to. It is offered through Open Universities Australia and you don't even have to apply to enter the degree initially. How it works is you complete a minimum of two units and then apply to enter the degree program. Your track record on those units is all the supporting evidence you need for your application. I have found the course to be wonderfully stimulating and challenging. And my blogging experience has helped me a lot too. Familiarity with the internet makes a lot of the research easy and it has also helped my visual diary as it's a bit like blogging in an analogue form. If you are thinking about it, do a unit and see if you like it. I think you will.

Suzanne said...

Hi Jan
It was lovely to read your article and I am fascinated by your photography.
I have jsut finished a BSc with the Open University (UK) and now doing an honours (environmental) course online which will require and end of course project. I chose to do something on Mangroves, hence my interest in your site.
I was actaully in Coffs harbour back in 1984 and went fishing in the Mangroves and won the competition for catching the biggest fish.
Just thought I would write and let you know you are read worldwide.
Good luck with your course

janey said...

Wow to the photos and your course. Is it on line only? I think you'll have to rename your blog:D

These photos are great. We have mangroves all over Florida. They are very beautiful I think and so dense and full of life. It's amazing what you can see if you just look close enough. And your photos are just the right size.

Erica said...

Jan, thank you so much for the information on the course, I'll give it some serious thought

Anonymous said...

The photos turned out beautifully and I just love the idea. So gorgeous! Cute little mangroves with their leaves too.... hehehe

Love Mallory

Linda said...

Wow .. . this whole project is great. You are so creative, and it's really neat to see the thoughts that are going into each photo. I especially liked the last one with all the mangrove leaves, and the one with the hermit crab shells pointing upwards. Great stuff!

And the photo sizes look fine to me!

janey said...

Hey you've been tagged my dear. Come on by and see the rules.

Alison said...

What a wonderful series of ideas and pictures - thanks for talking about the course - do you get to see what other 'students' are doing?

Jan said...

Alison, yes I do get to see - sometimes. There are online discussion boards where you can post your work. I'm lucky enough to have fallen in with a group of chatty individuals in a couple of these courses and have as a result seen lots of their work. Unfortunately that is not the case for all the courses. Currently my textiles group (my mangrove work) is practically mute and isn't posting their work much. But what I've seen is very interesting.

redredday said...

these photos are so surreal. it took me a couple of visits back to realized what was going on with the cylinder and the leaves you were talking about. i couldn't tell if they were real or photoshoped. i didn't know the leaves were actually attached! they remind me of Sandy Skoglund's Radioactive Cats, but even more meaningful.