Biodiversity is the essence of ecosystems to which the well-being of mankind is intimately linked. Biodiversity refers to diversity at many levels, including diversity within species as reflected in the diversity within humanity, to the diversity of different species that rely on each other within an ecosystem.
No other feature on this planet is as complex or dynamic and our current society is forcing it to change dramatically. A recent study by IPBES reports that as many as a million species are currently threatened with extinction.
Many misunderstood scientific complexities can be better understood through the use of art. Art can provide new perspectives that enable deeper engagement and better understanding.
Art can be an incentive for communicating information to people while actively inspiring them to seek new understanding with open and curious minds. In biodiversity, art can raise awareness to the beauty we often overlook and conscientise us to our responsibility to conserve, protect and promote biodiversity.
With such expansive human influences over biodiversity, we are creating tremendous impacts on the sustainability of nature and consequently affecting our very own well-being. It is urgent to find ways that will connect humanity to nature in ways that inspire and encourage learning and empathy, which are the first steps towards the action we need to ensure the future sustainability of this planet.
Art provides us with this opportunity and in this collaboration between the Javett Arts Centre and FABI, we are taking a step towards inspiring action.
The Art in Biodiversity video links:
The Fruit of the Heritage Tree (Dr Josephine Queffelec):
South Africa marks National Heritage Day on 24 September. To celebrate the diverse heritage of the FABI community, Dr Josephine Queffelec launched the “Picking the Fruit of the Heritage Tree” initiative where FABIans were invited to celebrate their diversity by submitting stories and poems on their connections to plants, pests and pathogens. This also celebrated 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health.
In 2020, the narratives of the 13 participants were as diverse as the origins of the contributors, spanning Chile, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, India, Japan, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. From trees that connect the dead to the living, insects that are welcomed with ceremony and traditional beer to aphrodisiac “big bottomed ants” and plants to keep in your “herbal first aid box”, FABIans revealed fascinating glimpses to their ancestry, childhoods and the richness of the idioms in their languages and cultures in their creative submissions. (Click here to view the 2020 Project)
In 2021 Josephine again encouraged FABIans to participate in this project entitled “The Vines of Wisdom” on the second year of this celebration of FABIans’ heritage. (Click here to view the 2021 Project)
Zeiss Microscopy Image Contest 2021 (Prof. Cobus Visagie):
Professor Cobus Visagie was judged one of the winners of the international Zeiss Microscopy Image Contest 2021. Cobus’ entry of ‘Synnemata of a new Talaromyces species’ won joint third place in the contest where Zeiss microscope users from 50 countries submitted more than 1,300 entries. The image shows a new Talaromyces species found in South Africa, growing on oatmeal as a growth medium and acquired with a Zeiss Axio Zoom.V16. The competition was part of Zeiss’ anniversary year, and celebrates the work of researchers using microscopy in various application fields.