Gardening Magazine

Mossy Imaginings

By Gardenamateur

Pammy and I had such an exciting time last Friday night, as it was the opening night of the art exhibition called "31 Days" at Gallery Red in Glebe, in which Pam was one of the team of artists who all toiled like mad through the 31 days of July, producing a painting a day for those 31 days. As Pam's theme was based around a plant growing here in our garden – Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) – I thought that readers of this blog would be interested to see some of the work my talented girl does, plus learn a bit about Pam's interest in Spanish moss.

Mossy imaginings

Let's start things off with the most "botanical" of Pam's
pieces, this study of the minuscule flowers of the Spanish
moss plant. In real life the blooms are specks, just an eighth
of an inch long, maybe a quarter inch from side to side.
This is a watercolour, the medium she works in very
often, but she does work in a variety of media.

Mossy imaginings

Here's a real-life photo of the Spanish moss blooms. If you
know this plant, you'll be able to appreciate how small these
tiny blooms are. Here in Sydney it flowers in late spring,
in late October and early November.

Mossy imaginings

No, this isn't our garden! It's a photo Pam took in the expansive
grounds of an historic plantation in Natchez, Mississippi, which
is fully preserved, including not only the mansion in which the
owners lived, but also all the slave cottages, barns and other
working buildings. The huge Southern Live Oak trees there
all dripped with Spanish moss. 

Pammy has always been fascinated by this plant, and even before we went to the USA in 2011 she had imagined what it was going to look like. When we arrived at the plantation in Natchez she had one of those "this is it, this is the place that was in my dream" kind of moments. Needless to say we had an incredible day there, wandering around, taking lots of photos and just generally taking the whole ambience deep into our memories.

For the 31 Days exhibition, Pammy has created a beauitfully varied visual ode to Spanish moss, including its place in native American, Cajun and Creole cultures (for example, Spanish moss is the traditional stuffing material for voodoo dolls). And the artist in her just sees Spanish moss in different ways. Here are three more images from her show, which might give you some idea of all the different ways Spanish moss has inspired her.

Mossy imaginings

This is one of Pam's voodoo dolls. On the left panel is
the basics of making one (two sticks, add moss) and
on the right is the prettiest voodoo doll in Sydney.
Virtually everyone I know thinks that voodoo dolls
are only for sticking pins into, for people you want to
"hex", but we have learned that voodoo dolls have many
other uses, including beneficial ones in the magical
and healing practices of the Creole people of the
Caribbean region and Louisiana.  

Mossy imaginings

Thinking up painting titles isn't always easy, but Pam
decided that "Mass Moss" works for this. Works for me!

Mossy imaginings

A zillion little pen dots later and Pam called this one
"Living and Breathing". It's one of my favourites from the
whole exhibition. I can't quite grasp the levels of patience and
precision needed to do this, and all within the hectic schedule
of pumping out a painting a day for 31 days in succession. 

So, if you live in Sydney and want to see not only Pam's art but the utterly different and equally creative works of half a dozen other Sydney artists, pop along to Gallery Red, at shop 11, 131-145 Glebe Point Road and enjoy the show. "31 Days" is on until October 1. It's open Monday-Friday 10-5, Saturdays 10-3, but it's closed on Sundays. Here's their Facebook page.

Mossy imaginings

Finally, I thought I should also show you this, which is another
little hobby of mine, when I'm not gardening. I collect little
model cars (from the 1930s to the end of the 1960s mostly)
and I like to create dioramas of these cars in real life situations,
using Photoshop to form the images. So, inspired by Pam's
love of Spanish moss, I took one of the photos from our Natchez
plantation, added a 1957 Studebaker Silver Hawk and a couple
of picnickers, and created my "Picnic in Natchez" diorama.

One of these days Pammy and I will be going back to the USA and hopefully we'll visit Natchez again, too. Not sure if we'll be driving a '57 Studebaker, but we will take a picnic basket, spread out a rug and have another lovely day together under the ethereal tresses of Spanish moss.

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