Thursday, July 24, 2014

'Confluence' July 30th to August 22nd



'GRANNY SKILLS LUNCHEON' LAHARUM GROVE


 A few weeks ago our local paper ran an article written by Grampians Waste Management about a luncheon to be held at Laharum Grove, to introduce a proposed granny skills project in our region. The reasoning behind the project is that up to 40% of food purchased, ends up in kerbside waste collection each week. Meaning that land fills end up with wasted food that gives off methane gasses as it decomposes. I was shocked by the statistics...do people really waste so much of what they purchase?  
The idea behind the project is that if people are encouraged and taught how to grow, prepare and cook their own food. They would be less likely to waste it. There was an interesting group of people from different backgrounds at the luncheon. Rebecca Sullivan, founder of the Granny Skills movement spoke about the inspiration behind her starting the program. The idea is to teach workshops in Primary and Secondary Schools by a team of volunteers.
For many people my age, we learned at home from our mothers or grandmother's how to cook, sew, mend, knit, grow and preserve our own food. In my household that was just what we did and was certainly taken for granted. Current education in these areas has plummeted to very basic cooking and sewing now taught in schools. In the past schools in my area offered night classes to learn anything from sewing, welding, wool classing, sheet metal work and much more. Slowly these programs have disappeared and our once lively Community Learning Group, dissolved into dust over 10 years ago.  
I have just spent the past 3 weeks at the EES hearings regarding the proposed two open cut gold mines in our town. The hearings were held at our local Tafe College. Sadly now closed and a complete white elephant in our town due to cuts in State Government Funding!
Our local Camera Club placed an article in the local paper offering a 5 week program 'Get to know your camera' I inquired a few days after the article was published and was told that I was number 15 to register. A message passed on a few days later said that due to the overwhelming response the club decided to run the program in two groups. Talking to a friend yesterday he mentioned that he was not able to get into either group and is number 10 on a waiting list should someone pull out. I feel that this is a prime example of the lack of further education opportunities that now exist in our area. Not only are younger children not being taught basic skills. There is little opportunity for adults to do any kind of further educational courses.
Tonight I am off to 'Get to know your camera'

The photo was taken at the roadside near Laharum Grove. One of the first areas impacted by the Wartook fires in January. It was sad to see houses and large business in the area with for sale signs up. But not surprising, as this area has been highly impacted by bush fires in the past 15 years.
  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

LARGE TREE GROUP TAPESTRY

It seems like ages ago that I met up with a group of friends in Melbourne. Time flys by and my blog has been on the back burner, as time is committed to other things. The tapestry, woven at the Dovecot in Edinburgh was on display at the Australian Tapestry Workshop. A special project to celebrate the Dovecot's 100 anniversary. The tapestry is woven from natural coloured wool, sourced from throughout the UK. It is a large tapestry, probably around 3 x4 meters. I was taken with the harshness of the landscape.
 The bare winter branches, the snow, the small crofts on the high horizon. A lonely figure wearing gum boots, coat and hat gives scale to the group of trees. It is a beautiful tapestry and my photo's don't do it justice.    

The tapestry design is taken from a painting by Scottish artist Victoria Crowe. A video of the making of the tapestry was playing in the gallery space. An image caught my eye as other paintings from the series 'A Shepherd's Life' were shown. The image of the old woman, looked just like my own Grandmother looking for something in her handbag! After I came home from Melbourne I bought the book 'A Shepherd's Life: Paintings of Jenny Armstrong by Victoria Crowe. A lovely little book with reproductions of the paintings in the series. Along with the story of her friendship with the shepherdess, Jenny Armstrong.
While I was looking at the tapestry I was pondering my own family. My Great Grandparents, Janet and James Herd came to Australia from Paisley in Scotland in 1854. As the surname Herd suggests, my family were shepherds-herdsmen. My own Scottish family probably lived in a similar croft. When they came to Australia James Herd worked as a shepherd until he was able to purchase his own land. My Grandfather Robert Herd was a shearer and sheep farmer and my own father Raleigh Herd like his father, worked as a shearer and farmer until he was called up into the army during the Second World War. When my father returned from New Guinea at the end of the war, he began working as a station hand at Allanvale. Allanvale is a large sheep station where some years they would shear up to 20,000 sheep. I spent my life until I was 16 living at Allanvale and moved into town just before my father retired. Everyone in my family were farmers and no one lived in a town. It was a culture shock for me to move, even into a small town. So I have spent a large part of my own life around sheep, Coen's grandparents have a farm as well. Maybe some time I will talk about what it was like to grow up on such a large property.
The similarity between the paintings in the book and my own Grandparents home have amazed me. The dark rooms. The wallpaper, everyday objects, even the Border Collie dog. So similar, yet worlds apart. I showed one of my cousins the book. He also was shocked by the similarity. There is another tapestry from the series of paintins of Jenny Armstrong that has been woven at the Dovecot, a photo is here. I wonder what my family thought of Australia when they arrived. The harsh summers, droughts and cold winters without snow. Trees that don't loose their leaves, all add up to a very different landscape.  
Yet looking through my own photos, there is a similarity to this photo after a fire with the bare trees and the ground covered with ash.
    

REGENERATION

There were severe fires here in my area in January. This is the Black Ranges fire photographed out the front of home the day it began. The fire burned for days, threatening homes. Much of the area burned was on rocky hills so air bombing with water and fire retardant was the only way to control the fire.
This is the second time in eight years that the area has been devastated by fire. I managed to go out and have a walk around the Bunjils Cave area. Bunjils Shelter as it is also called has great significance in the Gariwerd Creation Story  The trees are beginning to shoot new foliage, beautiful colours against the blackened tree trunks.
Some of the foliage on the eucalyptus trees were scorched, while everything around them were destroyed. The ground is bare and covered in ash.
This is the thick bark of a burned out tree, beautiful in its own way.
The area where I live is one of the highest fire danger areas in the world. So summer is a nervous time around here. There is beauty in the regrowth, but it takes many years for areas to regenerate.
On the way home we came across this Echidna   Echidnas are one of only two mammals who lay eggs. They are difficult to photograph as they curl up and try to dig their way into the ground when they feel threatened. This one kept on putting his head up so see if we had gone. So I managed to get a photo that was not just a heap of spines.
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