Archive for March 1st, 2009

Darwin in Canberra

Weaving has taken a backseat in the past week, as I drove with my mother to Canberra for a few days. Unfortunately I was a bad blogger and took zero (!) photographs – I’ve included some links to more info and visuals.

Our major purpose was to attend a one day symposium on Charles Darwin at the National Museum of Australia (follow the link for a look – an interesting building).  Not a major interest of mine – I was basically the chauffeur – but it was an enjoyable day.  Speakers touched on the man, his travels with a focus on time in Australia, and of course Origin of Species, also Australians who contributed to later work (isolation does not equal marginalisation) and ventured into the Stolen Generation (the political use and abuse of “social darwinism”) and on to genetic modification and climate change. One speaker addressed evolution and creationism – I’ve found a article by him here. Pretty much all of his presentation was way above my head and I don’t want to get into personal beliefs – I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying it triggered some thoughts about textile work. In the past I did quite a bit of dyeing and felting which was very fluid and open to chance and serendipity. I sampled and kept notes etc, aimed to build skills and knowledge, and I do the same now with weaving but somehow it feels different. Not sure where this train of thought is going –  nowhere in the short term. The weaving I’m doing at the moment (more ringing teatowels) is all planned up front, “simply” a matter of doing my best to pay attention to each moment, each movement, to complete the plan to the best of my ability. The resulting textile will remain as a record of the performance.

The symposium talks will be available as audio on demand, though not there yet when I just checked. The exhibition is open to the end of March and worth a visit if you are in Canberra. There’s something so incredible about seeing the actual notebooks (surprisingly small) and Darwin’s handwriting. A table with the pros and cons of getting married. The logbook of the captain of the Beagle, where an earthquake gets equal billing with washing his clothes…

We also visited generate, a mixed media exhibition (heavy on textiles) by Julie Ryder at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. A beautiful exhibition, and very satisfying as a body of work exploring a particular topic. The artist punched (?) thousands of small dots from leaves, leaving beautiful patterns, and used them to create shapes. I wonder what the balance of planning and serendipity was, as she worked…

All this plus bellringing at Manuka, visiting with friends, lots of good meals (try Josh’s if you are in Berrima) and (I was pleased as punch about this one) I didn’t get lost once while driving around Canberra – a first for me!


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