Melissa Peacock Future Stewards

Guest Blog: Melissa Peacock, “From The Ground up”

Melissa Peacock is a visual and community artist who has a strong connection to the Australian landscape, and whose work explores and responds to the relationships within the world around her. As a first for CVA, we worked with Melissa to offer a location for a 5-month artist stay where she held community workshops and taught locals to make botanical paper, organic inks and brushes from the fallen plant materials. This was a new experience with how individuals connect with the environment, whilst conserving and protecting habitats and eco-systems; representing how the local landscapes heritage is being conserved. 

“In May this year, a Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) allowed a project partnership between CVA and myself as a local Visual and Community Artist (from ‘A Country Arts Practice’) to bring to the Gladstone Region a unique approach to environmental stewardship.

From the Ground Up has been a 5-month artist residency on site at Canoe Point’s Botanic Walk. It was a pilot project which also offered free community arts workshops to locals, staff of CVA and the local councils conservation team. The goal was to teach individuals about making botanical paper, organic inks and brushes and how to eco-print – all using sensitively sourced fallen plant material from the region.

The projects initial proposal was to collaborate in person with CVA volunteers, but that changed when COVID-19 restrictions came into place. Linda Fahle (CVA Revive Project Manager) proposed for me to work onsite at The Botanic Walk instead, where locals would frequent and where there was much to learn from and explore.

This alternative direction (which was me on a solo basis) lead me to dive deeper into environmental psychology, conservation behaviours of individuals and the cognitive benefits of spending time in nature.

I began developing ephemeral land art installations, video and sound art pieces and utilising waste as art tools in conjunction with my other organic art and en plein air practices.

I also decided to produce gifts made from the local landscape. Throughout the 5 months, I had made a large varied body of botanical paper (Melaleuca eucalyptus, Whistling pine, Aloe vera, Agave, Guinea grass, Coco palm and Cadaghi to name a few) which was then made into a series of free art for local community members to discover. Cards and origami paper pockets were hidden along the botanic walk, inviting people to connect with the space. The intention was to encourage people to think about how they interact with the land and landscape.

The idea that if we do something within the surrounding environment, then we can then go further to do something positive about this environment.

For the duration of the project, I established a strong sense of connection with the surroundings of the botanic walk. Each visit and interaction further developed a therapeutic relationship, which was a constant reminder of the importance of spending time in nature, and the positive impact it can have on your mental health.

From a creative recovery perspective, the projects intention was to have conversations and gain insight into the impact that eco-anxiety, depression and financial hardship has had on the people of the Gladstone region, as they’ve been affected by drought and bushfire, and now COVID-19.

In October, I was finally able to spend time with staff from CVA and it was a privilege to work on site with them at Sand Piper Park in Gladstone.

We worked together on making a batch of botanical paper which was left to dry on site overnight. The results were fascinating, as a storm hit the area and left beautiful organic indentations in the paper. The following day we worked with organic inks and brushes to produce a series of drawings as we discussed conservation in the arts.

A wide selection of works from the project have been donated to CVA and available to purchase with all proceeds going to CVA. The collection reflects on creative connections with the land, and how there are many ways to engage with the living world around you.”

Melissa Peacock


Melissa from A Country Arts Practice acknowledges the Byellee, the Gooreng Gooreng, the Gurang and Taribelang Bunda people, the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of where she works.

She offers her respect to their Elders past, present and emerging as we work towards a just, equitable and reconciled Australia.

‘From the Ground Up’ is a Artist in Residence/Community Arts project partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia, NFPHouse and is funded by RADF.

Regional Arts Development Fund is a  Queensland Government and Gladstone Regional Council partnership to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland. Gladstone Area Water Board also proudly sponsors this project.