native and exotic
There are several whiteboards down on Bride level2. When Sue was showing me around the office she pointed out a very handy one beside the door opposite the lift. It was one of the very few whiteboards I saw that already had a drawing on it. I asked who had conjured this pastoral delight and Sue confessed she was in fact the artist (nice one Sue!). I felt bad about rubbing the drawing out so I asked if she was sure she wanted me to draw on this board. Absolutely, she said, go for it. (There was a second board at the other end of the office that was also available, but it was behind a desk and awkward to get to.) Hmmm. I thought long and hard about what to draw on this board and nothing seemed quite right. I also still felt bad about rubbing out Sue's drawing so I decided to collaborate instead. As I looked at the drawing I became more intrigued by it. It had a compelling unity as an archetypal environment. The cartoon style underscored the primacy of the elements - a diversity of plants and animals living in harmonious balance in a benign climate. I wondered, where is this happy place? What inspired it? I decided it was an Australian landscape, but if this was so, at least a few of the jolly residents were introduced species. Sadly, two of these animals have been particularly destructive to the Australian environment (dogs and rabbits) but they do make great pets. Bringing in mice probably wasn't a great idea either. Then there are cats. And us. But this landscape could just as easily be European. If it is California the tables turn and a new villain emerges. As a cultural /imaginary landscape this composition functions effortlessly. Constructed in the real, biological world it is a lot more complicated and unstable. Things can be easy to change but harder to fix.
Here is the list of species depicted in Sue's drawing as I have identified them:
Bombyx vulnerans (after John Lewin, 1805)
Canis lupis familiaris
Dominique Dunstan is a reference librarian and artist. She works at the State Library of Victoria and has recently completed the Jane Nicholas Staff Fellowship.