First day of Spring in the southern hemisphere, tomorrow Wednesday, Aug 31 2011 

My own spring cleaning report.

Four images of a dial under reconstruction: top shot shows the circular dial removed from the movement in ‘as found’ state. 180 years of grime and finger grease, not to mention the oxidisation that has occurred to this early and quality French timepiece dial, signed Leroy A Paris. Second shot shows the dial cleaned down to what remains of the original surface, sans the paint and grime. The ‘organics’ are still present on the dial but we are down to examining the supposed engine-turned finish and what remains of the original silver flashed to the brass. The third shot shows the results of the removal of all organic residue, the results of the fine bead blast and then the 10 microns of silver plated to the front of the dial. The vector graphic dropped in as the fourth shot shows the combined layers of my artwork, now complete that will be silk screened to the silvered dial. The case repairs are completed and all that remains is to clean and service the movement.

The Noosa News article on Barbara’s work at the Carrington Gallery from July 8, 2011 Tuesday, Aug 30 2011 

The gallery didn’t have a copy when we asked, Julie and staff did everything to drum up interest in these works and all copies were passed on by the time we bumped out the show. Dear Marjory Millburn clipped and sent us the article which arrived here in the mail and out of the blue, delighted and thanks to the universe! The larger .pdf is here to download. The house geisters will now travel throughout Queensland as Artisan / Museum & Gallery Services, Queensland have plans to tour ‘Tinsmith – an Ordinary Romance’ through 2012–2013.

New public art commission under way with Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery Wednesday, Aug 17 2011 

Artist’s Name: Barbara Heath
Title: Land Race
Dimensions: Group of four objects; each object approx. 50mm high x 200mm wide x 150mm deep
One object consists of two layers, the lower layer perforated enamelled copper, the upper layer perforated stainless steel.
The two layers are separated by about 50mm, the upper layer floating above the lower layer and parts of the lower layer extend through the upper layer. The work appears like a lattice grid which is permeated by organic forms.
During my visit to the region 18-22/7/11 I spoke to a number of people, some connections were planned and some were random;
Native plantswoman, staff at Horsham Information centre, nurserymen at Horsham Botanic Gardens, Lindsay Smith at Horsham Historical Society, Adam Harding, Michael Shiell and Alison Eggleton Horsham Regional art Gallery, Val & Syd at James Hill Taxidermy Museum, workers at the Stick Shed at Murtoa, junior reporter at Community Information Session, arts administrator at Community Information Session, motel owner, farmer, graphic artist, women shoppers at KMart, Laura Poole ABC Rural Reporter, waitress, Dr Bob Redden Grains Innovation Park, Dr Gael Phillips.
Although drought is an ongoing concern for farmers given the twelve year duration prior to the rains, this topic was not usually mentioned first. Also rarely spoken about, one of the effects of long term drought, is that of male depression and suicide – often deaths may be reported but suicide is un-stated.
Overall the issues people listed relate to diminishing family farm holdings and subsequent lack of community in the surrounding areas, population shift to Horsham, disintegration of rural culture – football teams shrink and merge with one another, (you may end up barracking for a team that was once your opponent). Diminishing numbers of young people in the communities – fewer want to or can work on the farms. Rural youth disadvantage.  Shifting demographic – since small town rural properties are so cheap – newcomers are often lowest socio economic – sometimes ‘rough’, ‘hard’, and don’t join the community – with more children than dwindling rural health facilities can support.
In many of the smaller regional communities there may be just a few ageing people left and once they die they know their house will remain empty. In one instance, hope was raised when a Melbourne developer came and purchased a number of homes, however these were trailered up and shifted to Melbourne for sale – effectively erasing a large part of the town.
Locals anticipate rural Victoria ultimately being serviced by 25 or so larger towns and all other communities will die out.
Some spoke of the overwhelming nature of introduced weeds which while manageable on your own property becomes too large when they spread onto roadsides and public land.
The picture repeatedly however is that of the farms getting larger, growing fewer crops on a massive scale and using less human labour more technology and sophisticated equipment to work the land. Agriculture today requires economies of scale that change the social landscape and limit population diversity. This results in the erasure of many small communities e.g Quantong – once a thriving fruit and vegetable growing area, which supplied the Melbourne markets via a rail line which has now been removed. Evidence of the extensive market gardens in this area is now reduced to a few sheds and self seeded fruit trees growing along the roadside.
A contrast to the negative issues is found in the work of the National Gene Bank at the Department of Primary Industries. I met with Dr Bob Redden, curator Australian Temperate Field Crops Collection, who explained his department’s work to ensure plant gene diversity by sourcing and saving seed from land race crops. ‘Land race’ is the term used to describe heritage seed varieties now being displaced by International Seed Uniformity Standards . He described the urgency of collecting seed from farmers in places such as Western China, before this gene diversity is lost in the rush to take up the new improved and higher yielding seed – “with population growth and competition for land and water world wide, climate change presents a threat to food security and diversity. We will need to conserve genetic diversity for the future.”

In so many ways the blanket displacement of crop gene diversity mirrors the disruption of small ‘whole’ rural communities. Somehow the urgency of the hunt for remaining land race varieties, in the face of all the implications of risk inherent in the seed uniformity standard, might also mirror a way to resolve the social implications of escalating rural change.

Its this theme that underpins my work for Life in Your Hands.
Viewed from the summit of Mt Arapiles the landscape of the Wimmera reveals itself as a beautiful grid of rich and fertile farms, but this grid also implies a disconnect from the human need for diverse interests. We are being called to find more imaginative paths to harness science for our future.

Rhyl Hinwood’s assymetrical earrings © Bh Sunday, Aug 14 2011 

Lots of studio visitors today, all but one artist has delivered their works for Maryborough AGHS conference. Looking for these earrings using the search feature on the blog (and the commissions category links) had me stumped, maybe I just hadn’t posted it yet? Here is the commission from earlier this year, up at last and the caption says it all . . .

Ruby anniversary brooch © Bh Commissioned for Melinda by Stewart Service for August 7 2011 Sunday, Aug 7 2011 

Two carré cut Rubies inserted into two layers of © Bh patterned Stainless Steel with Oxidised Silver mounts. Another two shots here and here.

Barbara and Malcolm are taking another 5 artist’s work to the AGHS – Maryborough Conference Sunday, Aug 7 2011 

Barbara is on the local AGHS Queensland Chapter’s committee, along with Ann and Graham Hesse, Mal has designed and produced the delegate’s booklet & the artist’s pages shown above.

Our ‘banksia’ brooches are now completed and ready for the Australian Garden History Society’s 32nd annual National Conference in Maryborough 19–21 August 2011 Sunday, Aug 7 2011 

Copper sheet cut and fold formed then enameled and fitted with a handmade brooch back © Bh, the fourth shot is here.

Re-worked Wedding Ring for Anna & David Burch Friday, Aug 5 2011 

Our regular viewers will know the © Bh Textured Saddle Ring. Anna’s original 18ct Yellow Gold Wedding Ring was cut and soldered to her new 925 Silver Barbara Heath band, 35 years later.

Another pet gone on Wilston Hill Tuesday, Aug 2 2011 

Eric the cat, son of Nuri - born on Valentine's day 2008 - died last Sunday July 31 at sunset. He lived free on Wilston Hill (but not long enough),didn't see the car while playing in front of us in high spirits. Animal pal of Tara and now ronE, loved, cared for and will be missed by (at least) three families. Another heartbreak!

Early Feb 2008 and I was in the middle of throat cancer treatments. I had had my neck dissection to remove the secondary cancer, 16 teeth removed in three operations to make way for multiple sessions of radiation to blast the primary in my larynx. My diary on Tuesday 12 Feb notes radiation session 20 and that evening, while lying upstairs I heard activity in the kitchen, a thump to the floor and I just spied a brindle patterned cat slink away to the verandah. Well, as soon as I told Barb she put out milk for the cat which came back for food the following day, seemingly un-flustered by the presence of Tara, the following day she gave birth to two kittens on the kitchen floor. To Barb’s amazement she ate the first still-born kitten and Barb watched as she cleaned up the second  and live little ginger bundle. We called the mother ‘Sorry’ as she was a feral cat of our Wilston Hill, it was around the time when Kevin made his sorry apology for the Nation. Those close to the unfolding story know of many more features of Eric’s life. The Christmas break that year meant that we had to leave mother and son with friends on the hill as we made our trip to Tasmania. On our return, mother was to remain in the big Georgian house on the hill, by now re-named Nuri and (little fucking) Eric was passed back to us with a kill tally sheet from his minder. Eric was a sort of positive messenger during my ordeal, he matured to become a real character known by everyone exercising on the walkway beside the studio. He stayed close by during the two subsequent trips to Tasmania and became firm friends with our neighbour next door. Liked by Vet and all our other pets, another heartbreak.