Category Archives: Reflections on Process

On Time and Contraction: Some Recent AWC Media

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These relevant links and quotes come from the web/newspapers- and quote in the journalists words .. 

‘AWC founder and philanthropist Copley says the task (of mammal conservation) is beyond the capacity of government and politicians, whose timelines are very different from those of threatened animals’.

“It is blindingly obvious that the government effort is failing by inaction. There are a lot of fine people and words, but programs are contracting all over the country. There is a huge vacuum.”

Martin Copley, 2011 in Chasing the green | The Australian

Strikingly, it seems that governmental custodians agree that the long-standing system of piecemeal management has failed. In the same time-frame as its assumption of control over Tableland station, AWC is cementing a most unusual deal with the West Australian government to extend its newly acquired sanctuary on pastoral land in the Artesian Range, west of Mornington, where some of the north’s mammalian rarities endure.

From Grand plan for an ancient landscape | The Australian

Se also

Pastoralists give ground for conservation | The Australian

Bringing beasties back from the brink | The Australian

The wide green land | The Australian

Atticus Fleming, chief executive of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, at Mount Brennan in Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary. Picture: Colin Murty Source: The Australian

Thinking out loud ..

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“Hospitality to/for the animal other means letting slip particular human values, i.e. characteristics valued as and for humans. Such work becomes not simply an art that tells us stories about ourselves but something which opens onto an earth larger than our own (human) world. Most particularly and strikingly there is a suspension of reason, domination, and control. Art that suspends human values risks instability, unreason, rejection and collapse. Such art does not properly ‘serve’ culture and so fits awkwardly as an object within the art and gallery world. Indeed, such art speaks to culture by turning from culture, gesturing to an Outside; such art hopes to turn culture with its turn from culture”.


Signage at North Heads, The Re-introduction Project, ANAT-Synapse Residency (Photo Keith Armstrong, Courtesy of AWC)

Residency1: Working at North Heads With the Ecologist Team, May 2012

Filed under Reflections on Process, Residency 1: North Heads Sydney

The first residency, 2.5 weeks, was at North Heads Sydney – a combined AWC/North Heads/NSW Parks and Wildlife arrangement – an extraordinary piece of remnant Eastern Suburbs Sydney banksia scrrb on the very edge of Manly – a brisk cycle ride up the hill, past the hospital and into the old military facility that had, as is ironically the case, been the great local conservationist.


Long Nosed Bandicoot, The Re-introduction Project, ANAT-Synapse Residency (Photo Keith Armstrong, Courtesy of AWC)

Sandwiched in, a remnant piece of vegetation, the long resident population of  Long nosed Bandicoots are highly vulnerable and therefore closely protected through a range of conservation, protection and scientific monitoring schemes – spearheaded by the AWC in collaboration with NSW P&W.


Cameron Radford was the extremely genial ecologist in charge and my role in part during the two weeks was to assist in the bi-yearly bandicoot survey. In line with the potent water cooler affect of being on site, working with a team when things were running  hot there were ample opportunities to share conversations with the groups of ecologists, trainees, wildlife workers and others gathered to help at that peak time.  The photos below tell much of the story – as does the Flickr photo stream in more detail.


Caeron Radford & Long Nosed Bandicoot, The Re-introduction Project, ANAT-Synapse Residency (Photo Keith Armstrong, Courtesy of AWC)

Suffice to say, following my prior experiences at AWC Scotia, I was able to help set traps, bait, clear and process animals with at least some degree of usefulness, enter paperwork and also for the first time personally participate in radio tracking of animals.


Artist Weighing Long Nosed Bandicoot, The Re-introduction Project, ANAT-Synapse Residency (Photo Keith Armstrong, Courtesy of AWC)

The process was spread over two weeks and required some early morning runs (up at 4.15am anyone?) to start before dawn – reason being ‘coots in traps arent keen on hanging around in them long long after dawn – so our job was to get them cleared as fast as possible in line with the project’s ethics clearances – along with the bycatch of several possums, some birds and a fair number of rats – some reintroduced natives, many the common black.

Keith Armstrong, Radio Tracking Bandicoots, North Heads, Sydney, May 2012, (Photo Cameron Radford, Courtesy of AWC)

Why I came to work with the AWC

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Here is an excerpt from the initial application I made – This collaboration emerged after two full visits to AWC’s Scotia sanctuary in remote NSW – a place where I had both volunteered previoulsy as a field assistant and spent time talking, thinking and preparing. There are times in life when you find something very meaningful and a team who are impassioned – and you know that you want to put energy into it too – this was how I felt – and so – I began to think through how I could use my skills to help build something bigger – something more than just another artwork..  and so I began to look for a way to make it happen. The ANAT Synapse residency is renowned and they were able to accommodate the need to visit several properties and break it into trips working with the field ecologists 🙂


Long Nosed Bandicoot, The Re-introduction Project, ANAT-Synapse Residency (Photo Keith Armstrong, Courtesy of AWC)

Here’s what we planned ..

Keith Armstrong and SW region Chief Scientist Matt Hayward have co-planned this creative research residency through a series of seven high intensity field-trips to AWC’s remote properties in VIC, NSW and SA. These trips coincide with key times at which the AWC’s mobile scientific teams will be undertaking intensive scientific activities on these far-flung properties. The program coincides with specific events that Matt will lead in 2012 at Mallee Regions (Yookamurra, Scotia and Buckaringa), Lake Eyre Basin (Kalamurinia) and Sydney (North Head).

We have agreed that Keith will also be given the opportunity to work actively as a research assistant during these day and night long activities in order to gain in-depth, practical exposure to AWC’s cutting edge scientific processes and practices. Through the ‘watercooler effect’ of these extended interactions we will concurrently develop focus for a mutually beneficial future project or event as we begin to understand each other’s processes in fine detail. This will arise through detailed practical work, conversation, direct experience and, where possible, a range of small-scale actual art-science experimental outcomes we will conduct on each site.

The residency will conclude with an exhibition of the ensuing creative process at Mildura Arts Centre who have expressed strong interest – and whose regional reach/audiences are highly relevant to AWC’s HQ at Scotia (See Supporting Letter). We will also conduct significant planning together towards a potential future ARC Synapse Linkage application.