Graeme Buckley self portrait
It seems that I am about to become a PUNQ.
That crazy title will probably be more attractive to the young ones than an old guy like me. I am past the age where rebellion can be seen as a fashion statement.
So, what is a PUNQ? It stands for Pop Up North Queensland, and is being run by Umbrella Studio. It means that about forty artists or groups can have a shop space in the city for ten days at the end of July.
Lynn and I have been lucky enough to snag one, so we will have a taste of what it is like to run a gallery. A lot of artists harbour fantasies about having their own little gallery. I know I do. Exercises like this can be a good way to get a dose of reality without any great financial risk. Why would anyone think that an undercapitalised small business could possibly survive? And why do creative visionaries imagine that a can of cheap white paint can turn a daggy old building into an art gallery? And yet we dream. Artists are always dreamers.
We dream of bringing all our old pictures into our shop, and possibly even selling some. We dream of holding drop in art classes. We dream of doing demonstration paintings in our gallery and selling them off the easel. We dream of a stream of interested visitors who will come in to our shop and get involved in discussions of art and life and the nature of beauty.
We dream that you will share our dream at 21 Stokes Street (opp the Old Court House) from 28 July to August 8.
We have two fish ponds in our yard. We built the dragon pond before we put in the bamboo. Shortly after that it got clogged with bamboo leaves. It has been a problem since then until this year when I built a shade cloth structure to keep the leaves out. I was worried that it would be too dark, but the ribbon-weed survived, and the fish thrived.
The other pond was larger and had a plastic liner which lasted twenty years before it started to leak. Instead of concreting it as I always intended we decided to use an old bathtub.
Unfortunately it was smaller than the old pond and we didn’t have the soil to backfill around it so I filled the hole with leaves and hoped it would compost down in time.
This pond was working well for a while but then the number of fish seemed to decline. I tried feeding them more in case they were so hungry they were cannibalizing their young. This didn’t work so I tried feeding less as excessive feeding can poison the water. I even tried thinning out some of the rampant vegetation.
The puzzling thing about it was that the largest fish were disappearing and leaving the babies. I should have guessed that it was a predator. Then one morning I noticed two tiny snakes (no more than one foot long) floating on the duckweed. I think I had actually seen them before bot not recognized what they were and assumed they were part of the vegetation. When I disturbed them they went down a burrow in the half-composted leaves. It should be warm down there, and with food laid on they should grow quickly.
They are keelbacks, specialist freshwater snakes that live on fish and frogs. They are also one of the only native animals that can eat cane toads. I am thrilled to have such valuable creatures in my garden, and don’t begrudge them a few guppies. There are plenty in the other pond I can move across if they run out.