In Vanishing Food Bowls silk bowls imprinted with plants from the Bimblebox Nature Refuge are suspended into the top of wire forms that I think of as ‘ghost coolamons’.
These food bowls float above a map of Queensland. Along one side of this map are images of cross sections of coral luminescence bands extracted from long living corals on the Great Barrier Reef.
A plastic layer forms an oily, artificial surface over Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef as an analogy to the dangers of an increased number of coal carrying container ships.
When the heavy rains come to Central Queensland the floodwaters from Bimblebox Nature Refuge drain into the Belyando River. The flooded Belyando River drains into the Burdekin River, many hundreds of kilometres to the coast. When the floodwaters reach the ocean fresh water spills out over the Great Barrier Reef for many kilometres, carrying silt from inland Australia.
Each time silt flows over the reef the coral builds a layer of growth incorporating the silt laden fresh water. These layers become luminescent bands which can be read as a weather time line by scientists. Long living corals on the reef contain a record of flood events in Queensland over their lifetime. An archive of weather records is contained in corals reaching back further than 400 years.
400 years of weather patterns from long living coral links back to the trees on the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, helping to date their cycles of birth and death.
Trees at the Bimblebox Nature Refuge take a long time to grow, but many are very old, reaching back long before European colonisation.
Trees at Bimblebox Nature Refuge germinate during several years of wet weather, while many years of drought will kill mature trees. The time between germination cycles can be so long that the people who live in this area can go through their working lives not seeing the ironbark trees germinate.
This reminds us how easy it would be to lose entire ecosystems in one generation…
Vanishing Food Bowls
Photos by Jill Sampson and Mel de Ruyter.