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Welcome to my art blog from Tasmania, Australia. I post a little on my various art projects while also working in plant genetics. For more, please try the links to my various art pages or email me at silvergumstudio@yahoo.com.au. Thank you for visiting!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Silk artworks from the Canning Stock Route and Tasmania

These are some silk creations I've been working on, using the technique of eco-dyeing with leaves from Australian native species.

A Canning Stock Route journey in silk
This wall hanging is sewn from lengths of silk dyed along the Canning Stock Route.  In the winter of 2018, I was lucky to travel along this historical desert route, one of the most isolated in the world, with Outback Spirit expeditions and a marvellous group of fellow travellers from many walks of life.  During the days as we passed through beautiful mosaic vegetation, I collected a few leaves from desert poplars and eucalypts including the evocatively named river red gum, ghost gum, bloodwood, brittle gum, marble gum and coolibah.  At night, I wrapped the leaves in silk and boiled them over the campfire in water from the local springs and wells, inside a tin billy which grew increasingly rusty as the trip went on.  It was the perfect way to make art - you can't be self-critical when it's pitch dark and you literally can't see the results, but have to hang them on a tree by moonlight and retire to a tent with dingoes howling outside.  In assembling the silks at home, I tried to capture the up and down flow of the dune country, the varying vegetation of the swales we passed through, and the soft desert colours.  A friend suggested that next time I sew a dress of my journey, which sounds nice but a tad too difficult.

This is a series of smaller landscapes using the dyed silks, an added pink road and freestyle drawing with the sewing machine to represent our tracks:

Red range

Water hole

Salt lakes

Desert oaks

Lastly, below these is the finally assembled (foldable!) silk field guide to the Tasmanian eucalypts, which I have been struggling to put together since its creation on Eucalyptus Day 2018.  I'll have the chance to exhibit this at an upcoming conference on eucalypt genetics at the University of Tasmania.  I'll also be displaying my recent research, which combines decades of Eucalyptus genetic research with the marvellous Eucalyptus dye colour data base of artist Sally Blake to investigate the question, 'Can eucalypt taxonomy be used to predict leaf dye colours?'  As you can see below, leaves from different species used on the same day vary widely in colour and intensity... and genetics appears to be partly to blame!
A folding silk field guide to the Tasmanian eucalypts, dyed using the natural leaf chemistry of each species.

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