Homebush Bay in Sydney, Australia is home to the remnants of a ship-breaking yard that operated during the mid 20th-century. Large watercraft that outlived their usefulness were towed to Homebush Bay and dismantled to salvage any components that could be reused or sold for scrap.
One such ship was the SS Ayrfield, a 1,140-tonne behemoth built in 1911 as a steam collier that was later used during WWII as a transport ship. In 1972 it was brought to Homebush Bay to be dismantled, but fate would decide differently. Operations at the ship-breaking yard subsequently ceased and parts of several large vessels including the Ayrfield were left behind, the largest objects in an area now infamous for decades of chemical dumping and pollution. But only this century-old transport ship would be transformed by time into a floating forest, a peculiar home for trees and other vegetation that have since sprouted over the last few decades.
From 2008-2010 a concerted effort was made to remove many of the lingering chemicals in Homebush left from the industrial era. Not far away is the Brickpit Ring Walk, a former industrial site where nearly three billion bricks were made from 1911 through the 1980s that is now a carefully protected natural habitat. As the forest has grown inside the SS Ayrfield, the bay is now a popular place for photographers who wish to capture the uncanny sight of this strangely beautiful relic of the bay’s industrial past, not to mention nature’s resiliency.
Self-taught artist Tiffany Bozic explores a wide range of natural themes in her tightly rendered depictions of wildlife. Drawing inspiration from her “extensive travels to wild places” and exposure to various research specimens at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the artist works most frequently with multiple layers of watered down acrylic paint on panels of maple wood that lends a distinctly natural and often realistic level of detail to each of her paintings. Bozic is currently working on a new body of work for a solo show at FFDG this coming October, but for now you can see more work in her portfolio (and archive) on her website.
As if lifted from the wreckage of the Titanic, ceramic artist Mary O’Malley creates sculptural porcelain teapots, cups, and vases adorned with barnacles, tentacles, and other living sea creatures (she refers to them as “porcelain crustaceans”). Many original works from this series titled ‘Bottom Feeders’ are available over on Etsy. (via laughing squid)
Milan-based artist Marco Mazzoni works almost exclusively with colored pencils to create intricate drawings that depict the cycles of nature and worlds based heavily in Italian folklore. One of his most frequent subjects are drawings of flora and fauna who seem to be consuming or living on top of the face of a woman whose eyes we never see. The artist says he consciously does not depict the eyes so the viewer doesn’t consider the artwork a portait, but instead a still life where all elements have equal importance. Via Galleria Patricia Armocida:
Mazzoni weaves a world based on Italian folklore, made up of Janas and Cogas, female figures who, according to Sardinian beliefs, seduce, enchant, curse, and heal. His work is an homage to the secret art of healers; each drawing is saturated with metaphors that tell their story. The circular compositions, which allude to the cycles of Nature, depict medicinal and lysergic plants, pollinator butterflies and birds which drink their nectar, and hidden amidst leaves and wings emerge the faces of these women forced to hide their sensuality and their knowledge due to bigotry imposed by religion, accused of witchcraft because they are herbarie, herbalists. Female healers and midwives held an important role within the community. [...] Marco Mazzoni underlines the importance of the interaction between the women and the plants by developing the subject that’s best known: the female face framed by flora and fauna, rendering it an icon. He reveals her innermost perceptions, memories scribbled on a diary page, highly imaginative visions of “impossible” animals, the fruit of ecstatic exploration of hallucinatory journeys. [...] The result is a work which recounts the moment in which woman takes control of everything, in complete harmony with Nature.
Smithsonian Magazine just announced the finalists in their 10th Annual Photo Contest. This year the competition saw 37,600 photo submissions from photographers in 112 countries and Smithsonian’s editors selected 50 finalists organized into their usual five categories: Altered Images, Americana, The Natural World, People and Travel. Like last year the photos are open to a public vote through March 29, 2013 and a ‘Readers Choice’ award will be announced along with the rest of the winners in June. Here are ten of my favorites by take some time to go see the rest.
It’s not everyday you discover what could be your new favorite blog, but lucky for me that day was today. A Netherlands-based visual artist named Marinus has been at the helm of his blog Head Like an Orange since October 2011. He takes short excerpts of wildlife footage and crops, loops and times them to create mesmerizing moments of life. What you see here is just from the last few days, there are literally hundreds of these and they are well worth a few minutes of your day. Go now! (via jessica olin)
No these aren’t haystacks stuck in a phone pole. Visit the Kalahari Desert in the south of Africa and you’re bound to run into a peculiar animal called the Sociable Weaver Bird. The birds are called “social” not just because they live in organized colonies, but because they build massive homes out of sticks, grass and cotton that are home to several other kinds birds. That’s right, the nests are so large that birds of other species are welcome to setup shop, not the least of which is the South African pygmy falcon which lives exclusively inside the social weaver’s nests that often accomodate over 100 birds at at time. Via the San Diego Zoo:
The sociable weaver’s nest sees plenty of guests—a regular Kalahari Desert inn! The South African pygmy falcon Polihierax semitorquatus relies completely on the sociable weavers’ nest for its own home, often nesting side by side with the sociable weavers. The pied barbet, familiar chat, red-headed finch, ashy tit, and rosy-faced lovebird often find comfort in the cozy nesting chambers, too. Vultures, owls, and eagles will roost on the nests’ broad roof. Why are weavers willing to share the huge nest they worked so hard to make? More residents mean more eyes keeping a watch for danger. And the weavers often learn from the other birds where new sources of food can be found.
Sculptor Anna Gillespie lives and works in Bath where she infuses her figurative sculptures with elements collected from nature including numerous acorn caps or beechnut casings. Gillespie also works with bronze and stone, often recreating some of the same environmental elements by hand, a process I imagine is even more meticulous than harvesting and using individual seeds themselves. She most recently had a solo show at Beaux Arts Bath and you can follow her more on Facebook. Gillespie also published a book of her work spanning 2006-2012 where you can see many more stunning images of her sculpture. (via my modern met).