Art from trash

Two years ago I was lucky enough to go with Kramstable’s class on an excursion to, among other things, the Art from Trash Exhibition.

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It’s an annual event run by the Resource Work Cooperative at the Long Gallery in the Salamanca Arts Centre, which “encourages the reuse of discarded materials in the production of amazing visual art”. I didn’t go last year, but found out about this year’s exhibition in time to make sure I set aside a lunch hour to go and check it out.

20170601 Art from Trash 12 - Toolbox by Stcott Fletcher

Toolbox by Scott Fletcher, made from recycled tools

It was fascinating to see what people can turn stuff that might normally be thrown away into.

20170601 Art from Trash 02B - 20th Century Dolls by Pirjo Juhola

21st Century Dolls by Pirjo Juhola,made from rusted wire, electrical wire, rock and other discarded materials

20170601 Art from Trash 03 - Tennis Racket Ukulele 2 by Mark Lleonart

Tennis Racket Ukulele 2 by Mark Lleonart, made from wooden tennis rackets and Huon pine scraps

20170601 Art from Trash 04 - Three Bags Full by Irena Harrison, Liz Toohey, Bec Williams The Three Weavers

Three Bags Full by Irena Harrison, Liz Toohey and Bec Williams, made from single use plastic such as pet food and coffee bags, and remnant leather

I really loved these bags (there were three of them) and the way The Junk Weavers have used old scarves on the handles of this one.

There was a separate section for schools and some wonderful artwork by primary school students.

20170601 Art from Trash 10A - More Than A Rooster by Grade 2 Albuera Street Primary

More Than Just a Rooster by Grade 2 Albuera Street Primary School

This piece recognises 2017 as Year of the Rooster and was the result of the students integrating their studies of Chinese, sustainability, art, science, maths and visible wellbeing through the inquiry questions “what happens to our rubbish?”, “how can we reduce, reuse, recycle, or rethink our daily actions?” and “what materials make up our rubbish?” They asked further questions on the disposal and decomposition time of plastic and decided to collect their plastic waste and create a rooster.

20170601 Art from Trash 06 - Our School by Grade 5-6 Lenah Valley Primary

Our School, by Grade 5 and 6s, Lenah Valley Primary School, made from coloured pencils

20170601 Art from Trash 05A - Bitsabot by Grade 5-6B Albuera St Primary School

Bitsabot, the class robot of 5-6B at Albuera Street Primary school, made from bits and pieces from electronic devices and appliances. 

This is the most creative use of a vacuum cleaner brush I have ever seen!

20170601 Art from Trash 07C - All That We Share by Young Migrant Education Students Tas TAFE

All That We Share, by the Young Migrant Education Program TasTAFE students, made from recycled paper bags and other assorted recycled materials

20170601 Art from Trash 08D - Mirror of Maleficent by A TAste of Togetherness Mosaic Support Services

Mirror of Maleficent by A Taste of Togetherness Mosaic Support Services, made from a mirror and old toys (Creepy!)

20170601 Art from Trash 09 - Necklace by Jeka Kaat

Necklace by Jeka Kaat, made from washers, jumprings and clasps

Ever wonder what do do with old Christmas cards you feel bad about throwing out? Wonder no more.

20170601 Art from Trash 11 - Ghosts of Christmases Past by Jen Duhig

Ghosts of Christamases Past collage by Jen Duhig

If you get a chance to call into the Long Gallery before the exhibition closes on Sunday, it’s definitely worth a visit. There’s lots of very cool and interesting art on display, and creative re-use of materials that were probably destined for the rubbish heap.

 

 

Book 6/24: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I’ll start this post with a confession: I’ve never read any of Barbara Kingsolver’s novels, although I’ve long been intrigued by titles like The Poisonwood Bible and Pigs In Heaven.

I first saw this book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life on Instagram, where one of my friends, Mrs Smyth, posted a photo of it and commented on what a great book it was. And it really is! It tells the story of how Ms Kingsolver and her family pack up their life in Tuscon Arizona, move to a farm owned by her husband, Steven Hopp, in Virginia, and attempt to live for a year without industrial food. That is, food grown and raised locally – either food they grew themselves, or food from “so close to home [they’d] know the person who grew it”. The plan was to spend a year “in genuine acquaintance” with the sources of their food, with only extraordinary reasons for sourcing something from outside their state or county.

2016 Book 6 - Animal Vegetable Miracle

I loved this idea, and was hooked on their journey as soon as I picked up the book. The timing was fitting: March is the month of the Tassievore challenge, something I’d been an enthusiastic participant in for the last two years, but hadn’t quite gotten into this year.

The book, published in 2007, begins as the family drives out of Tuscon and, ironically, given the forthcoming venture, calls into a gas station for fuel and junk food. It makes the point that “the average food item on a US grocery shelf has travelled farther than most families go on vacation”. Ms Kingsolver observes that the energy used by producing and transporting food far outweighs the energy we get from consuming it. The case for eating locally grown food is compelling. “If every US citizen ate just one meal a week composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.”

Ms Kingsolver weaves the story of her family’s efforts to eat locally or do without with observations on the status of food in our modern life, and the book includes some brief articles by Steven Hopp that provide some interesting facts and statistics on issues raised in the book.

She writes of the conflict between cheap convenience industrial food and small locally-driven enterprises trying to stand up to chemical companies, big food producers, supermarkets and governments. It’s a story that plays out everywhere: small egg producers battling ever-increasing red tape to get truly fresh eggs from happy chickens to their customers; Elgaar Farm having to crowdfund new equipment to continue to be able to produce their products using centuries-old methods and still being tied up in the approval process; Two Metre Tall making glorious beer through natural fermentation that the big brewers claim is “off” because they don’t understand the methods.

I found myself nodding at pretty much every point Ms Kingsolver makes in the book. I’m not sure that everything she describes happens in Australia, or to the same extent, but the overall picture is the same – we live in a society that is largely disconnected from its food sources, demands everything all year round, wants cheap and convenient – all of which comes at a huge price – our health, animal welfare, the environment and local farms to name just a few things. Cheap might be good for our hip pockets, but we pay for it in other ways.

The commentary on the current situation was somewhat deflating, and made me wonder if there really is any hope for the world to reconnect with its food and to get back to more sustainable ways of feeding ourselves. But the anecdotes and stories of what people are doing at a local level made me feel more positive, in spite of the massive obstacles that exist.

I loved reading about Ms Kingsolver’s youngest daughter Lily establish her own poultry enterprise at the age of nine; the fact that Ms Kingsolver had to check the security of the house whenever they left in zucchini season so the the neighbours couldn’t break in and leave zucchinis for them; and the wonderful story of buying a huge pumpkin in Italy, hacking it open at their accommodation and trying to dry the seeds out during their trip so they could take them home. Oh and the expose on the sex life of turkeys, which was horrifying, fascinating, amusing, and ultimately heartwarming.

There’s also a very thought provoking chapter on meat eating when it comes time to harvest the poultry that’s destined for the pot.

Each chapter ends with some thoughts from Ms Kingsolver’s eldest daughter Camille on her perspective on the family’s project, as well as some of her recipes and meal plans for the produce that is available in season each month. These are also available on the website.

I love the whole idea of this project, and would love to be in a position to be able to commit to doing something similar. 12 months of Tassievore-ing and getting food from my own backyard! It seems quite doable at this time of the year when the markets are overflowing with beautiful fresh produce. Ask me again in July or August. I was encouraged by the fact that Ms Kingsolver and her family didn’t end up eating dandelions (or roadkill) in the leaner months like other people they knew of that had attempted similar projects.

Realistically I know that doing this would mean some fairly big changes, a large vegetable garden and time I don’t have. But rather than giving up, I have to get out of the habit of all-or-nothing thinking. No, I can’t  source absolutely everything I eat from my backyard and from people in my immediate area that I know personally, but this doesn’t mean I can’t do anything at all. This book has inspired me to start thinking about some smaller changes I can make to increase the amount of local food in my diet. One baby step at a time.

It’s important.

12 of 12 March 2016 – Part 2

Part 1 of this post, in which I try to get into the habit of an earlier bedtime, is here.

The story continues . . .

I decided that, even though I wasn’t feeling so good, I’d get up and go for a walk this morning. Slabs suggested I sleep in and walk later in the day. While the idea sounded good, I didn’t think this was going to work because it’s cooler earlier in the day and walking in the heat* is likely to have tired me out more. And that’s assuming I’d be able to muster up the energy to get out of the house later. I find it much easier to get my walks out of the way first thing, before I get caught up in everything else I’m doing during the day.

2 of 12: I did sleep in. A bit. For me. By the time I got up and out of the house it was light, so I decided to wander along the walking track, which I can’t often do because it’s too dark most days when I get up.

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3 of 12: I took it easy. No 16 km walks this morning. 30 minutes was about 3000 steps, and I was grateful for the park benches dotted along the walking track, as I needed a rest by this point. This meant that I’d need to do seven lots of 30 minutes to reach my target. This sounded like a lot at 7am, but I was confident it was doable if I rested up in between.

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4 of 12: These signs are quite new. I can’t figure out if the council retro-fitted the dog poo stickers or if someone who was sick of stepping in poo go the shits and stuck the stickers onto the signs themselves.

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5 of 12: The river looking very peaceful this morning.

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I cut my normal route a bit short because I was getting tired and my walk was taking longer than normal. See! I’m not pushing myself.

6 of 12: I used some of my walking time to catch up on my French lessons on Duolingo, which I’d recently started again after a long absence. I followed the principle of making a new habit as easy as possible to do, so I reduced my daily goal to one lesson, which is possible to slot in almost anywhere in my day. I’ve generally tried to do it first thing after dropping Kramstable at school on my way to work. So if you see me walking along hunched over my phone in the morning I’m not on Twitter (probably). I’ll be learning French.

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After breakfast it was time to take Kramstable to swimming. An ideal opportunity to fit in two of those 30 minute walks I need to do. While it’s not the most pleasant and relaxing walk, as it’s mainly along main roads, it’s a good way to get us both moving.

The thing that struck me, as it did last week when we had to walk because Slabs needed the car, was how many cars went past and how few people were walking anywhere – I could count them on one hand each time. Most of the people that were walking were walking dogs rather than looking like they were walking to somewhere for a purpose.

As I watched the never-ending stream of cars go past, I wondered how many people were driving because it was quicker and easier than walking. After all, most people are busy, and taking an hour out of your day to walk to somewhere you could drive to and back in ten minutes is a big chunk of your day. Unless I’ve had no car, I’ve always jumped in the car and driven to swimming. It’s so much easier, I can leave a lot later and I have more time at home to do stuff like checking Twitter. I mean vacuuming the floors.

(What followed here was a ramble about the time needed to walk, slowing down, using the time as one-on-one time with Kramstable, environmental concerns about using the car for short trips. Followed by the eventual realisation that if I get up at the same time, walk for an hour less in the morning and walk to swimming instead I’ll still have the hour I would have saved by driving, plus all the other benefits. I’ll save all that for paspresentfuture: the director’s cut.)

8 of 12: Kramstable had a good swimming lesson.

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9 of 12: While we were up the street today we noticed someone had tried to set fire to the community notice board. Nice one.

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Also up the street, we learned some new roundabout etiquette where you indicate you’re going left before you even get onto the roundabout, and then go straight, confusing the hell out of people who are trying to cross the road. A change from the usual “indicate right when you’re going straight” crowd.

10 of 12: Washing day for the leggings!

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11 of 12: Today’s leggings. Today’s step count: 21,406. Two days to go. I might just make it.

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12 of 12: I made lasagna tonight. This is one of my favourite epic dishes that takes all afternoon to prepare. So you know that I’m not overdoing things, I had a rest first. And I went to bed early.

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* By heat I mean anything above about 18 degrees when the sun is shining. The sun here is burny and melty, and saps my energy every time I go outside, regardless of the actual temperature. I’m told the sun is more intense in Tasmania than in other places, and I find it to be really uncomfortable to be outside in. I hate walking in the sun.

Day 12: Dunedin days

Day 12: Dunedin days
Dunedin, New Zealand

Dunedin, New Zealand


Dunedin. I love it. I’m currently sitting here drinking my very last Wanaka Beerworks Cardrona working out how I can stay here and not go home.

OK I know that’s not going to happen.

We had a great day. This is the only place apart from Christchurch that we haven’t been part of an endless stream of tourists. In fact we probably stand out because we are tourists!

Our first activity this morning was the Otago Museum. It was really cool. There was so much we didn’t see that we would have loved to have seen and could easily have spent the whole day there. Our main focus was the kids activity area, with a lot of interactive science things that Kramstable (and we) loved.

The main attraction was the butterfly enclosure, which was the only part of the museum we had to pay to get into. It’s a 30 degree tropical house (so not that much warmer than the outside temperature today) with heaps of butterflies and some small birds.

One of the highlights was the release of some of the newly emerged butterflies. When they emerge from their cocoons, they sit for a while until their wings dry so that they can fly. We saw quite a few newly emerged butterflies in the incubation house. The staff in the butterfly house check them over and then if they’re ok, put them into a basket and release them at various times during the day.

After the heat got too much for us, we went back to the main part of the museum and had a look at some of the exhibits about the Maori and the other people of the Pacific. Some of the other highlights were the Sir Edmund Hillary exhibit and the World War I nurses exhibition. Two hours was definitely not enough.

The museum is close to the Otago University, which had been subject to the threat of a mass shooting today, so there was an increased police presence in the area, but most people seemed to be going about business as usual. I think the bigger concern would have been high temperatures and forecast strong winds, and the associated fire risks.

After our museum visit we headed out to the Otago Peninsula to Larnach Castle. It’s very cool. It’s New Zealand’s only castle – technically not a castle but a manor house – apparently it was the thing in those days to make your home took like a castle, which is what William Larnach did in 1871 when he built this place.

It’s now owned by the Barker family, who have restored it and opened it to the public – all the entrance fees go towards maintenance and further restoration. It’s a fascinating place, and Kramstable was really excited to be here because he’d never been to a castle before.

It’s a great building and the views from the tower are wonderful. The gardens are also amazing, very well maintained and there’s even an Alice in Wonderland section. We had lunch in the Ballroom Cafe; the Ballroom was built by Mr Lanarch for his one of his daughters for her 21st birthday.

After lunch we drove back to Dunedin (a drive with spectacular views) to have a look at Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street. With temperatures at 26 degrees we decided we weren’t going to climb up to the top. Just looking at it was exhausting, so we headed back to the motel.

It then cooled down abruptly. A bit of time to wander around the city and take photos of the beautiful buildings (in the rain, which hopefully assisted the fire fighters). Oh and call into the Green Man Brewery.

We had dinner at a Scottish restaurant called Scotia, which was a definite improvement on last night’s dinner. I wish we could stay longer in Dunedin, but it’s not going to happen this time. I know now that I have to come back!

Day 10: No time no place to talk about the weather

Day 10: No time no place to talk about the weather
Te Anau, New Zealand

Te Anau, New Zealand


Everything was go for our trip to Milford Sound this morning. We’d been checking the weather for this day ever since we’d arrived and it was going to be the only day with decent weather for at least three days either side. We’d confirmed with the tour guide and were getting picked up at 8.05.

We woke up at 6.00 to get ready in time and were getting excited. This was going to be one of the highlights of our trip and everything was working out.

Only at 7.00 our phone rang. It was the motel owner telling us that the Milford Sound road was closed – not because of the weather, but because of trees on the road after yesterday’s winds. He said he could try and get us onto a Doubtful Sound tour, which would be a bigger group (45 compared to 8 on the Milford tour), would cost more, and would involve a short bus ride, an hour boat ride, an hour bus ride and then a 3-hour cruise on Doubtful Sound. We didn’t know what else to do at such short notice, so told him to go ahead.

We had an extra hour to wait, as this tour didn’t leave until 9.00. The bus took us to Lake Manapouri, and we had about an hour trip across it to where the power station is. Apparently it can produce enough power for the whole of the South Island, so it must be huge. According to the brochure there had been plans to raise the level for the power station, but the fledgling New Zealand environment movement saved the area form damming in the 1970s.

It’s a massive lake, and very very deep – over 400 metres.

Once we got to the other end, we hopped onto another bus for a 22 km trip along the Wilmot Pass Road, which had been built in the 1960s for the power station. This took an hour, rising to 671 metres above sea level. There were some spectacular views. On the way down the gradient is 1:1.5, which is seriously steep. Our bus driver reassured us that the bus’s brakes were checked every six months and that they were due for a check “tomorrow”.

Finally, we arrived at Deep Cove, the start of the Doubtful Sound cruise. We were lucky with the weather, and had great views all the way. We travelled almost out to the coast where the Tasman Sea meets the coastline of New Zealand. If we’d kept going we would have hit the Australian coast somewhere south of Sydney.

I’d like to say I had a wonderful time, but today has taught me I’m not good on small-ish boats on choppy waters, and I spent a lot of the time on the boat wishing I was anywhere but there. So… yes I’m glad I got the opportunity to see this wild area – it was really beautiful – but I really didn’t enjoy it.

I also learned the reason we’ve seen hardly any road kill in New Zealand – this is something that I noticed on our second day heading out of Christchurch, in complete contrast to Tasmania. This is because they don’t have any roadkill targets. The only mammal native to New Zealand is the bat – hardly a target on the roads – so the animals that are going to get squashed on the roads are the introduced species like possums, and there are so many of them here, eating all the vegetation that their native birds need, that running over them is encouraged. (Slabs bought a t-shirt the other day with the slogan “Possums: New Zealand’s little speed humps” and now I understand it.)

I’m glad we did it, but this isn’t an experience I’m in any rush to repeat. I’m keeping both feet on solid ground for the rest of the trip.

P365 – Day 156 tread lightly

It was World Environment Day today, and the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens held its annual TreadLightly EnviroFest
Last year was the first time I attended, and I had a wonderful day exploring all of the stalls and activities, and listening to the speakers. I learnt a lot and I came away with a lot to think about.
This year was a bit different, and I went with Juniordwarf, Lil Sis and Mum. Despite the winter weather, we had a great time. Juniordwarf was very excited to be able to take his Aunt and his Nanna to show them his favourite place in the Gardens, the ‘Cold House’ (technically the Subantarctic Plant House, but it’s about four degrees (Celcius) in there, so his name is perfectly apt).
I caught some of the amazing Peter Cundall’s talk on growing vegetables in Tasmania.
This gentleman is an absolute inspiration. I remember seeing him on TV when I was much younger in the days of Gardening Tasmania, and used to watch him regularly when that show morphed into Gardening Australia.
I own a beautiful first edition copy of his Year Round Gardening book, published in 1985 (which I was able to find in a second hand bookstore after lusting after the copy held by the Library) and I enjoy reading his articles in Organic Gardener magazine. 
I missed most of what he actually said about growing veges (other than that cauliflowers need the trace element molybdenum and beetroot needs boron and that you should sow beetroot seeds yourself, not buy seedlings).
What really got my attention was the man himself. He is 84 years old, but you’d never know it. He said that there was nothing wrong with him at all and the last time he went to the doctor for an illness was over 40 years ago.
He puts his good health down to a healthy lifestyle – most specifically gardening, which is all the exercise he needs (he asks ‘did you ever see a happy jogger?’), and growing his own food. 
I compared myself to him. I lead a rather unhealthy, overweight, sedentary lifestyle, and rely almost solely on others for my food supply. This winter I’ve been constantly sick and have felt rather uninspired and, well, just bleh. Yet here was someone more than twice my age bursting with an energy and enthusiasm I can only dream about.
It certainly gave me something to think about, because I’ve noticed when I’ve made a real effort to improve my diet, such as focusing on fresh, non-processed ingredients and cutting out things like wheat, alcohol and coffee, it’s made a noticeable difference to how I’m feeling, my attitude and energy levels.
And that begs the question why haven’t I stuck with it, if it’s made me feel that much better. I don’t know the answer to that and it’s something I intend to work on.
But that aside, back to the Festival, the other speaker I saw was Paul Healy, who writes about sustainable gardening and raising chickens in the Mercury‘s Saturday Magazine. He breeds Barnevelder poultry, and he brought a couple of these beautiful birds with him to the Festival. Juniordwarf was a bit wary of them, so we didn’t get too close, even though they are apparently a very placid bird.
Last year I listened to all of Paul’s talk on sustainable gardening and other issues around food and the environment, and got a lot out of it. This year I only heard a bit of what he had to say, but that was still interesting.
He was talking about the principle of feeding the soil, rather than feeding the plant. He said that if you feed the plant, you are forcing it to take in everything you give it, regardless of what it actually needs whereas if you feed the soil, the plant will take what it needs and leave what it doesn’t need. He said plants have a sort of intelligence in the sense that they ‘know’ what they need.
I’ve heard a lot of people say to feed the soil. I never really knew why, but this made perfect sense.
Paul referred to a book called The Living Soil, by Lady Balfour, published in 1943, which he says is the soil ‘bible’ and should be your first port of call for more information about this type of gardening. It is out of print, but the State Library has a reference copy.
The other thing I didn’t get to find out as much as I’d have liked to today is Peak Oil,  which is an issue that doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of attention in the climate change debate, where everyone seems to be focused on the proposed carbon tax.
It’s an issue that really frightens me when I think about the implications, but I won’t go there today – it’s a whole other blog post, or more. I might even rant a bit. I don’t think I’ve done a ranty blog post yet.
In the mean time, I think it’s time to use the inspiration from today to actually do something.