Name of Scientist / Researcher: Suzanne Schibeci
Name of Artist: Mika Utzon Popov
Collaboration between disciplines has always interested me. A greater understanding of a subject can be gained by its study by individuals with different expertise. Artists have highly developed observational skills, so I am keen to get the perspective of an artist to describe pollination by the different possible pollen vectors important to species of Banksia. As Banksia is not reliant on any particular pollinator, the effectiveness of the suite of possible animals involved could be determined through close observation and tracking of an inflorescence from flowering to seed set.
Having grown up in the natural environment of Denmark, I am hoping to reach beyond my initial response to the Australian bush, and reach into new understandings of its character and content, through local and scientific knowledge.
The Australian landscape is a raw and powerful presence in a modern society and I am curious to learn more about its foundations and cycles through the knowledge of others.
This is a unique opportunity for me, as an artist; to develop knowledge into work I am already committed to, gaining new language, new thinking, through a collaborative discussion with the participants.
Field of research / interest
I am interested in the recruitment of plants in a natural community. The success of plant establishment in a population is dependent on a number of things: the number of flowers produced by the plant, pollinator visitation, the rate of pollen transfer to a receptive flower, the success of the fertilisation event producing a seed and the ability of the seed to germinate and establish in the environment. Continuation of a species in any area hinges on getting through each of these stages. My particular genus of interest is Banksia because they are such an iconic Australian plant group. They also have a number of other life-cycle characteristics, (such as resprouting and seed retention by the plant until release is triggered by fire) that complicate species survival, but also make it more interesting!
About your art practice
The foundation of my practice is the investigation of the experience of our movement through nature, whether physically or through memory. I create works which seek to capture an essence of these experiences, in a narrative dialogue about and with place.
At present my practice is divided into two, with landscape drawing and sculptural installations being the major component of my language. Much of my work is commission based and is developed through researching and investigating a sense of place and identity with place.
I gained a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from UNSW in 1987, where I studied the ecology of several Sydney region Banksia species. I completed a PhD in 1994 at the University of Wollongong, in which I studied the Banksia robur/B. oblongifolia hybrid system. I did not work while I raised my four children, but during this time I completed a Bushland Regeneration Certificate in 1997, a Diploma of Education from Charles Sturt University in 2002 and volunteered in various capacities. I commenced work as a casual teacher at UNSW in 2006, then as a contract Lecturer, teaching various courses, such as First Year Biology, Second Year Biogeography and First Year Professional Development. I have been attempting my research aspect and have established field sites in Royal National Park and would also like to look at recruitment in the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub, an endangered ecological community.
I was born in Denmark in 1971, to an Australian father and Danish mother and grew up in the costal forest of Denmark. I have lived most of my adult life between Denmark, Mallorca and Sydney, where I now reside. Each country has had a profound impact on how I work and the language I use in my process.
In 1996 I graduated from the National Art School in Sydney and have since continued to work in the arts, having had solo exhibitions in Denmark, Spain, Scotland, England and Australia. I continue to work with the natural environment as my source of inspiration and guidance, here in Australia with my family, and have found it a rare and wonderful place to develop a natural dialogue with its unique landscape.