On shows and responses


You are part of a show in Lismore at the moment, Ecologies at the Lismore Regional Gallery, on until the 5th September 09.
The show was completely negotiated via email, as you are overseas at the moment, so after a suggestion from Kezia Geddes, the curator over there, organized an amazing good deal with a close collaborator of mine, Mickie Quick.
A good deal because you were not going to be anywhere near the east coast of Australia, so your contribution would have had been done by Mickie and the gallery staff.
Despite that, and after lots of laughs with Mick about the process of coming out with something for two window spaces, two fantastic displays came out from “The Boss and the Brain” (as we listed ourselves for the show):
Mickie Quick did an hilarious shrine to Michael Jackson, see here the article on the local paper, and you master-minded a window display in a farmer’s supply building.
Some feedback came through, as a local Government adviser wasn’t very impressed with the subject matter.
Below his concerns, further down your response.


Observations in the front-window of the South Lismore gallery; as reported by citizens in-the-street(city)…..

‘Shock-horror’ that Norco is/would be ‘fostering the idea’ that Camphor laurel tree seedlings are (again, cf.1950s) being fostered as being a useful forestry

tree species, without ANY apparent consideration being given to the knowledge that they are one of the six(6) most-toxic TWWs in this region, AND THAT

at least anecdotally (Kew Botanic Gardens, UK, persnal communication and Analysis) the Camphor’ street-shade trees of Lismore were found(2005-06) to be

more and more toxic with global warming/’in our ‘big Drought’, with up to and over 93% camphor toxin (normal % reported worldwide is 67% camphor)in-the-leaves of particular–sampled trees, from under which in that same summer ‘dead native birds’ of medium-size were ‘found dead’ under the same trees; at the same time, all-the-mistletoes, once abundant on-the-Camphors’ were seen to slough-off, and could no longer tolerate the camphor (+ 3 other environmental narcotic compounds) that have been always found/analysed/proven to be int he leaves –

the same compounds, of a cumulative/ly toxic nature which are helping kill-off our river and its feeder-streams.

PLEASE therefore take-down the ‘display’ or artwork in-your-window/s at South Lismore gallery, OR ‘please explain’. Thanking you Sincerely & Environmentally,

Joe A Friend Govt Adviser(& Author) on toxicwoodyweeds(see wikipedia) on E-Narcotic toxins in invasive and allelopathic plants(=Environmental narcotics)

www.camphorlaurel.com ; In praise of Overton(1901) who first-found out that camphor is an e-narcotic, which can and does slowly kill soft-bodied biota.

Dear Joe,
as the ideator behind the window display which much alarmed you, I would like to answer personally to your concerns and provide an insight and a reasoning for the artwork.

It was my intent to start a platform of discussion with people like yourself on the need for thorough assessment of environmental emergencies, how they come, what defines them and what strategy should be adopted to correct the possible outcomes.

I have worked in the past with these issues, with projects like weedyconnection.com or, more broadly, on the relations people have with the environment best known to them, their pot plants, see The Hanging Gardens and Other Tales.

When invited to present an artwork for the current show at the Lismore Regional Gallery I wanted to delve again into the environmental reality of a particular area, Lismore, reflecting on the impact it has on a social context.

That is, how we humans relate -or not- to the plants living around us.

Chinese Celtis is regarded as the ‘next camphor’ in articles like this one, while the camphor laurel well, you described it yourself.
Yet an intervention like the one in the Norco Space does rise a number of questions, how is it that what grows so proficiently all around us is actively repressed and/or disregarded as the ‘wrong thing’ nature should produce.

There are a number of prominent experts who are re-assessing the way we should understand the inextricable connectedness between humans and the environment. The plants that grow around humans are the one which best live and produce despite our disruption of ecosystems, they are the one which should be first acknowledged.

The point of selling seed stock for those species is obviously fake.
The humour would have been apparent to the farmers who would have recognised the plants from the images and would have had a laugh about it.
But then it would also bring to light a funny idea, those trees are highly productive, why not harvest?

As I understand you are a government adviser on specific issues in relation to declared Noxious Weeds, while my knowledge is limited in terms of assessments and assessments criteria, but in my small, and from my platform, as an artist, I can put forward relevant, I think, questions, on the role humans play within the environment and how one is shaping the other.

I would be most interested on what terms the plant was marketed as ‘being a useful forestry’ in the 1950s.
Was the camphor laurel a deliberate introduction as the Hymenachne was for the grazers?

Thank you for your thoughts

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