Strand Ephemera 2019

There is always something beautiful, something whimsical and something political in Townsville’s biennial sculpture festival, Strand Ephemera, as I said four years ago, so I try to get to it. That’s increasingly difficult because our winters are stuffed so full of big arts events┬áthat locals have to give up either work or sleep to get to everything (visitors at least have the advantage of being here on holiday) but that’s a good problem to have, and we do our best.

Here’s a small gallery, similar to the one I posted in 2017, showing some of the works which appealed to me. Once again, clicking on any of the small images will bring up bigger versions in a lightbox with some additional information.

The works which appealed to me the most were generally those which engaged with the location and the idea of ephemerality – or showed a sense of humour or political nous, like Jan Hynes’ Incarcerate. She painted groups of garden gnomes to personify Manus Island detainees, demonised ethnic groups, LGBT people, etc, and displayed them in weldmesh crates.

The Story Fridges, not far from the now-traditional Pink Piano, riffed on the way the Strand is used, and the seahorses made good use of found and recycled materials. Some of the larger works had nothing to say about their (temporary) location; good as they were, most of them would have been far more at home in a gallery courtyard. Wooden Deity, inspired by Balinese art and, I’m told, begun while the artist was living there, was an honourable exception.

Strand Ephemera 2019
Daniel Popper: Wooden Deity

As I write, the city council shows all of the works on its current Ephemera page. It probably won’t stay up for long but here it is until it’s taken down.

Who knew that Bazas shelled their grasshoppers?

Pacific Bazas, also known as Crested Hawks, are beautiful birds of prey which are uncommon enough to call for a photo at every opportunity. We saw one in the Quarantine Station picnic grounds at Pallarenda on Friday as it flew up to perch in a tree.

From behind, we could see its head jerking up and down as it tore at prey which it was holding against its perch; from in front, I was able to get photos showing us what it was doing. It was carefully shelling a Giant Grasshopper in exactly the way we would shell a prawn, and for the same reason: to avoid the crunchy bits.

Pacific Baza with prey
Baza with lunch

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Old book reviews added to Green Path

I have just added two old book reviews to the blog, moving them here from my older site because they are still relevant to the themes of Green Path:

There may be more to come – but very slowly, since I’m not often willing to spend my time revisiting previous work.

Mother love in the wilderness

Here’s a hold-over from my visit to White Mountains National Park a few weeks ago: a beautiful spider-web and its resident family.

The web, shining in the sunlight in the camping ground, caught my eye and when I investigated I saw that the piece of dead grass suspended above it was a spider’s retreat overflowing with spiderlings.

Spider web
Spider web

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Birds at Torrens Creek

Torrens Creek is a tiny town just to the west of White Mountains National Park and it’s a natural stopping point on a trip to Porcupine Gorge or White Mountains (or Rainsby, for that matter, although I haven’t been that way for a few years).

A pre-dinner ramble from the pub to the bore and beyond coincided with the birds’ sunset activity: a Crested Pigeon (Oxyphaps lophotes) on a power line was extremely dubious about something on the ground; a Magpie reckoned that the top of the bore was a great vantage point; and a Blue-faced Honeyeater in a bottlebrush tree was touched by golden evening light.

Crested Pigeon
Crested Pigeon

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