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!

2 Responses to “Darwin in Canberra”

  1. 1 kaylyn March 2, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    I live too far away and could not attend a Darwin gathering. However, I did listen to ABC Radio National’s feature (of which there is a transcript at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/philosopherszone/stories/2009/2490726.htm#transcript).

    Here is an excerpt which I found inspiring and informing:

    Michael Ruse: The philosopher the late Karl Popper said that science, good science, starts with problems.

    The best science starts with the problem in the morning that you solve by lunchtime but which means that you’ve got two fresh problems in the evening.

    Now I think that’s what makes Darwin’s theory a great theory. It is a terrific theory, it does solve a huge number of problems, it tells you why those Galapagos finches are as they are. It tells you why the horse toes are as they are, it tells you about human evolution. So it tells you about those fruit flies. But at the same time it pushes you and says but there’s more problems to be solved, problems, for instance, like the origin of life itself, something which people are working on. Problems about development, how exactly does development take place from the DNA molecule right up to the living, breathing organism?
    And a lot of these problems certainly haven’t been solved yet and thank goodness they haven’t because good science is science which attracts bright people to do it. And bright people are not going to be attracted just by the possibility of polishing the successes of their parents and grandparents. So I would want to say Darwin’s theory is terrific science, not just because of the questions that it’s answered but because of the questions that it’s thrown up that it hasn’t answered yet.

  2. 2 amanda March 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Did you get the heddles in the post?

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March 2009

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