CELEBRATING NATURE CONNECTIONS: Create | Explore | Observe | Inspire at the Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens … by Lynda Griffin
Tranquilly tucked away in the heart of Kabi Kabi Country yet only a stone’s throw from the Bruce Highway sits the magnificent Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens - a true hidden gem of the Sunshine Coast. A haven for local plants and animals, the 82 hectares of stunning natural forest, manicured native gardens and nature play spaces is also the home of the Maroochy Arts and Ecology Centre – a contemporary, purpose built space of learning, research and relaxation - the perfect location for NatureArt Lab Queensland’s inaugural annual exhibition and workshop program Celebrating Nature Connections (08 October – 06 November 2022).
A month long celebration of art, nature and science, Celebrating Nature Connections featured a showcase exhibition of creative works by the NatureArt Lab South-East Queensland branch tutors Libby Derham, Zoe Lawrence, Petra Meer, Danny McCreadie and Sandra Pearce, alongside an exciting program of events and workshops.
Opening weekend highlights included free introductory nature journaling workshops by NatureArt Lab Founding Director Julia Landford, along with opportunities to meet and connect with the artists and new members of the nature art community over some delicious Australian native food tastings and teas from local First Nations producer and supplier My Dilly Bag.
Over the 20 day program we were thrilled to welcome nearly 400 local, national and international visitors to the exhibition, who were delighted and inspired by the range of mediums and techniques on display, from fine natural history illustration, to expressive drawing and watercolours, wildlife photography, printmaking and artist books.
Young visitors were kept busy with an insect display, a tactile table filled with fascinating natural finds, a nature journaling activity and a collection of vibrant books that celebrated and encouraged them to take a closer look, observe and begin to record the amazing natural environment that is around us.
Over 125 participants took the opportunity to experience connection to nature and place through the comprehensive program of workshops on offer - exploring nature journaling, watercolour foundation classes, guided walks, and sketching and understanding wildlife…and the Gardens certainly provided endless opportunities for observing wildlife! Reptiles, insects, and a huge array of birdlife including a very confident Brush Turkey were readily spotted and available subjects for journaling, sketching and photography. An orientation walk led by Friends of Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens could have continued for many hours as the NatureArt Lab Team took ample time to investigate the plethora of flora and fauna on-site, in preparation for the exhibition.
Managed by Sunshine Coast Council and supported by the Friends of Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens, the Gardens are a credit to the many people who have contributed to its development over the years. The NatureArt Lab team was thrilled at such a significant opportunity to present our creative arts and environmental education programs in such a beautiful and fitting location, to showcase the art and photography of our team, and to connect with some of the wonderful contributors to this unique place and the wider Sunshine Coast community – we look forward to returning in 2023 with more exciting workshops and courses to build on these important foundations and continue to create nature connections, connections to place, and to promote creativity inspired by nature.
Program Coordinator | NatureArt Lab
South-East Queensland Branch
All Images by Lynda Griffin, unless otherwise acknowledged below:
Plumbago Blue Butterfly (Leptotes plinius) image by Danny McCreadie
Pink-tongue Skink (Cyclodomorphus gerrardii) image by Danny McCreadie