The Art of Threatened Species is a collaboration between the Office of Environment & Heritage and Orana Arts, in recognition of the Saving Our Species program. Artists from across NSW are working in a variety of mediums to engage in a self-directed residency program for the development of a public exhibition.
Kiama | Albury | Capertee Valley | Riverina
Blue Mountains | Broken Hill | Narrabri Port Stephens | Newcastle
Chris Dawe (OEH)
NSW has one of the world’s most diverse and beautiful natural environments, including its plants and animals. Yet despite our natural wealth, NSW has nearly 1,000 species on the verge of extinction. The Art of Our Threatened Species project looks to engage the community with threatened species in a new way, through the eyes and creativity of artists across NSW. This project will see scientists and artists working in close collaboration in a wide variety of locations on a wide variety of species across the NSW landscape.
The residency program will provide artists and science and environment professionals with time, space and resources to work – individually and/or collectively – on significant areas dictated within the Saving Our Species program.
Residencies enable participants to do fieldwork and to work on site with local partners, to map out, collect, research and generate new perspectives around selected species. This kind of ‘embedded research’ will contribute to public and professional awareness and provide the means for a public outcome for future exhibition.
The Artists and their Threatened Species
The following artists have been selected by representatives of The Art of Threatened Species team for a 2018 residency with Saving Our Species scientists:
Bec Selleck with the Eastern Bristlebird, working with SOS scientist Dave Bain (South Coast/Kiama)
Amanda Stuart with the Spotted-tailed Quoll, working with SOS scientist James Dawson (Illawarra/Kiama)
Vicky Luke with Sloane's Froglet, working with SOS scientist Dave Hunter (Albury)
Kelly Leonard with the Regent Honeyeater, working with SOS scientist Sarah Bell (Capertee Valley)
Nic Mason with the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, working with SOS scientist Deb Ashworth (Blue Mountains)
Tallulah Cunningham with the Blue Mountains Swamps EEC, working with SOS Scientist Deb Ashworth (Blue Mountains)
Alison Clouston and Boyd with the Barrier Range Dragon, working with SOS scientist Marc Irvin (Broken Hill)
Anna Glynn and Peter Dalmazzo with the Mt Kaputar Slug and Snail Ecological Community, working with SOS scientist Adam Fawcett (Narrabri)
Bridget Nicholson with Beach-nesting Shorebirds, working with SOS Scientist Kath Howard (Newcastle/Port Stephens)
Cathy Franzi with the Sandhill Spider Orchid, working with SOS scientist Geoff Robertson (Riverina)
The Adventure So Far
Cathy Franzi toured orchid sites in early spring with Geoff Robertson to determine the impact of the dry on the emergence of the Crimson Spider Orchid, the Sandhill Spider Orchid and the Oaklands Donkey Orchid. The beautiful Crimson Spider Orchid was in good form, having had some rain in a number of locations. However, the Sandhill Spider Orchid which grows further west had not received enough moisture to emerge in its known sites. It was fascinating to walk through the variety of habitats of each orchid and to hear from Geoff about the efforts to propagate and translocate species into new locations.
Bridget Nicholson and Kath Howard have had an action-packed start to the shorebirds project coinciding with the beginning of the breeding season. The pied oystercatchers being the first in the season to start laying their eggs on the beach, have produced both eggs and fledglings. The exquisite camouflage designed to keep predators at bay unfortunately has the opposite effect on humans rendering both eggs and chicks extremely vulnerable to — in particular — 4WDs and dogs. The eggs were the focus of the day at the Old Bar Combi Festival where kids gave a helping hand in making their own hollow eggs and gaining a sense of the fragility. Bridget will be running egg making workshops at schools and at the Manning Gallery in December this year.
Bec Selleck has been out helping David Bain rebait the fox cameras in Eastern Bristlebird habitat to get a feel for where they live. She has also been loaned a stuffed bristlebird for inspiration. Bec will be joining Dave in the Spring at Barren Grounds and possibly Nadgee Nature Reserve when the Spring survey season begins.
Kelly Leonard is fast becoming the champion of the Regent Honey eater and has been gathering background information and ideas to formulate her project ideas. This has included participating in a community tree planting day at Capertee National Park, the stronghold of the Regent Honeyeaters. Kelly also attended a Regent Honeyeater community information day held at Denman in the Upper Hunter, and is negotiating with the Australian Museum to do a site visit to get up close and personal with some skulls and feathers.
Read more about Kelly’s work in our recent interview.
Amanda Stuart joined James Dawson for four days trapping quolls at Barren Grounds. They’ve had a ball together, catching quolls and experiencing all that the place has to offer. The weather has been wild, windy and wet but they toughed it out in a fully immersive experience. They shared loads ideas and played guitar around the fire at the end of each day. The quolls were spectacular as always and Amanda has been lucky to see three. Amanda also met up with other staff from OEH, from the Local Land Services and from the University of Wollongong and they have given her a broad range of ideas for Amanda to mull over. They will get back together in spring for more field work, hopefully joining up with Bec Selleck and Dave Bain who are working on the eastern bristlebird project together.
Nic Mason says: 'My experience so far in working with everyone in the AoTS project and all the science specialists has been terrific. I have had a great start on the project, joining Deb and NPWS staff at Jenolan in the field during Brush-tail Rock Wallaby monitoring. I have also been able to go behind the scenes at the Australian Museum to do some research on their specimens.' Nic also attended a teacher training session at Bathurst, where she spoke passionately about the project and her artwork in general.
Vicki Luke has been ‘frogging’ with Save Our Species scientist David Hunter — after some days of heavy rain the team was able to go out and spot a variety of frog species in dams around Albury. Vicki says of a Gilgai Reserve near the Albury Airport: ‘[It was] a hidden paradise, but like the Sloane’s Froglet a Gilgai is not a flashy subject. Gilgai is the Aboriginal word for a small water hole; found where cracking clay soils and pronounced wet and dry seasons produce a seasonal water source in a depression in the clay. This Gilgai is in the midst of an industrial area and the rain had stimulated all the inhabitants. David identified the calls of the Sloane’s Froglet, Plain’s Froglet and the Spotted Marsh Frog. We found Sloane’s Froglet’s in the reeds on the edge of the water. David does an expert job of photographing his finds who pose for a portrait!’
Artist Anna Glynn and biologist Peter Dalmazzo have just spent an incredible week experiencing roiling storms, gale force winds, hail, swirling mist and bright sunshine atop Mt Kaputar, capturing the overwhelming landscape in video, time-lapse, photo and audio field recordings. Their focus, the Mt Kaputar Snail and Slug Threatened Ecological Community, includes all that is on the mountain top, embracing the complete ecosystem including the hero species which is a giant pink slug that occurs nowhere else in the world. Anna says: “We had hoped to encounter and record the slug. We were so lucky that the mist and rain lured them out for one brief morning when we had a chance to see them as they climbed trees, feeding on algae and leaving fabulous, patterned chewing trails on the trunks. We will be on high alert in 2019 to do the 10 hour drive up to Mt Kaputar and continue our project when favourable snail and slug weather conditions of rain and mist occur.
In November 2018, we also attended the expert panel workshop for the Mt Kaputar Land Snail and Slug Threatened Ecological Community at the National Parks office in Narrabri. This was a great opportunity to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the field about the Saving Our Species conservation project and sit in on discussions about survey and monitoring actions. Next was a trip to Dubbo to meet up with OEH Community Engagement Officer Chris Dawe and Executive Director of Orana Arts Alicia Leggett, then to the Western Plains Cultural Centre to connect with Manager Andrew Glassop and to view their animal inspired collection with Collections Officer Jess Moore. Thank you to everyone we met who has helped us in our project!
The finished pieces will embark on a 12-month tour of regional galleries and art spaces to highlight our threatened species and showcase the work that is being done to save them.