New York artist drawn to our fauna

Aurore and Brandon Ballengee with son Victor at the City of Joondalup Community Invitation Art Award exhibition. Picture: Justin Bianchini
Aurore and Brandon Ballengee with son Victor at the City of Joondalup Community Invitation Art Award exhibition. Picture: Justin Bianchini

A NEW York-based artist has returned to the US inspired by the local fauna and impressed with attempts to preserve the environment.

Brandon Ballengee, in the northern suburbs as the City of Joondalup’s artist-in-residence for five weeks, toured nature reserves and started preparations for an insect-attracting sculpture outside Joondalup Library.

“It’s been great,” he said of his stay.

“As an artist and a biologist, I’m quite interested in biodiversity, ecosystems and one of the things I like very much here is an interest or compassion or desire to make sure biodiversity in an urban habitat persists. And it’s quite unusual because normally we develop and don’t think about these things.”

He singled out Yellagonga Regional Park and its wetlands as “really great”.

“I was quite keen on the frogs because that’s what I study,” he said.

“Just to get to see some of the native amphibians in their habitat and seemingly flourishing is really exciting.

“I also loved seeing the oblong turtles with the snake necks; for me they’re amazing animals existing here and not other places. And the bobtails.

“There is an incredible diversity here that perhaps locals don’t appreciate because they’re local.

“But from an outsider coming in, it’s fantastic. It’s like this beautiful chorus of evolutionary stories. And survival of these amazing creatures.

“I have been inspired by the nature here and I hope that a lot of locals feel the exact same way because they should be very proud of their natural heritage.”

Ballengee said he had studied WA amphibians ahead of his visit.

“I did a lot of research of what could be found in Joondalup,” he said. “I visited the natural history museums in New York City like the American Museum and we have a big collection that was really interesting.

“There are amazing amphibians here… one of the most biologically important corridors in the whole continent.”

Nature finds place in city

Ballengee did a lot of experimenting with light to attract moths while he was the City of Joondalup’s artist-in-residence.

The New York artist and biologist will return to complete an insect-attracting work inspired by his recent five-week residency.

“I’m creating this public sculpture which will glow in the dark to attract insects and be a pollinated garden,” he told the Weekender.

“Using native flowering plants to attract and create habitat for pollinators around this sculpture is part of a conversation about why we should love local nature.

“And how even in a city we can encourage habitat and thriving populations of animals.”

The sculpture would be built, possibly outside Joondalup Library, out of steel and aluminium and have UV lights, a fabric cover and flower bed.

“It will take a good six to eight months of building,” he said.

“So I’ve been making drawings and providing those to fabricators and meeting with people and then I’ll come back finish it off and have an opening.

“We’re also talking about doing a biodiversity festival celebrating what’s native like a nature festival; it’s great like these night walks I went on with people and we were seeing tawny frogmouths, amazing spiders tonnes of amphibians.”

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