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we're making art to help save our species

‘Australia is the guardian of a unique collection of mammals, birds, insects, flowers - unlike anything else in the world.
And It’s all in your hands.’

Sir david Attenborough

He's right, of course. It's a big responsibility. 

The thing is, Austalia needs to do a much better job. 

the big challenge

Since colonisation, human beings have had a devastating impact on the environment in Australia. The stewardship of traditional owners was replaced by a sort of industrial mindset, where the environment was valued for what we could take from it. That’s how people thought, and some people still think that way. 

Land-clearing, habitat degradation, feral predators, mega-fires, multiple impacts of climate change - all these are leading to the breakdown of ecosystems and threatening the loss of species.

 

Scientists have sounded the warnings for years, yet Australia still has the highest mammal extinction rate in the world. And at the pointy end of this extinction crisis, our federal government has proposed scrapping recovery plans for almost 200 endangered species and habitats. 

It's hard to fathom how it's come to this, but it's clear to see we urgently need to change it.

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the big idea

Scientists and conservationists out in the field are doing the heavy-lifting, but The Big Picture Collective starts from the recognition that art is a powerful way to help.

 

Art makes people have an emotional response.

Art makes people curious.

Art enables us to share stories and ideas. 

Art inspires people to take action. 

The Big Picture Collective is about making art to help save our endangered species. 

the big picture collective

We’ve commissioned artist Julie Paterson to paint small portraits of threatened and endangered Australian native birds, mammals, reptiles and plants.

 

We digitally print a limited edition of these portraits for sale. (Just like the endangered species these artworks depict, numbers are scarce! )

 

Big Picture Collective artworks are printed on acid-free archival cotton rag using the latest pigment ink printing technology. That’s what the best art museums use to achieve vibrant colour, brightness, clarity and longevity. 

 

Every digitally printed artwork is signed and numbered by Julie. And all work has been created and printed locally in NSW. 

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Image : Tamara Dean

For every artwork sold, we donate to a conservation group on the ground - from the bigger organisations like Australian Wildlife Conservancy, down to grassroots groups like Canberra's Red Hill Regenerators. Our collaborators are people doing important work, making good things happen.

Where we've already secured community group collaborators, we have a page dedicated to their project. We'll update our website with more details as we gain more collaborators. 

the big impact

We aim to sell out of all our artworks so we can raise money for these great projects, but raising awareness is just as important. 

The more walls we can get these artworks onto, the more opportunities we create for people to hear these stories.

 

If you own a Big Picture Collective endangered species portrait, every visitor you receive will see the artwork. Right there, that's the chance to start a conversation.

 

You can tell them about the Mountain Pygmy-possum or the Gang-gang or the Long-nosed Bandicoot. You can let them know about the conservation work being done to preserve them. And you can reflect on how this one species is a part of the big picture - how every species, no matter how small, is important to preserve the health of our planet. 

how to explain why biodiversity matters

Paul R. Erlich is a Professor at Stanford Centre for Conservation Biology. He and his wife Anne developed a useful metaphor to explain biodiversity which is dubbed the 'Rivet Popper Hypothesis. It's the best way we've found to convey to people how the loss of every species endangers us - and Prof. Tim Flannery rates it too. This is how he explains it: 

 

Imagine you are in a huge jet plane and all our species are little rivets that hold the plane together. You can lose a few here and there, but if rivets keep popping and popping, if you keep losing them, eventually the plane we are on is going to break up and crash. 

Protecting the biodiversity of our country is an important part of safeguarding our future. It's that simple. 

the small ask

We all feel pretty powerless in the face of the environmental crises going on around us. The scale of the problem means that individual action doesn't feel like it's enough. That's why we have called this project The Big Picture Collective.

 

We are inviting you to be a small part of something big.

 

The action of buying an artwork isn't a single action that generates a donation. It's got a knock-on effect that stretches out to influence more and more people. 

That sounds better than fretting over your keep-cup, doesn't it?

We'd love you to join us.  

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large size - 700 x 700mm

the art of conservation

Julie’s practice has largely focussed on creating handmade, one-off artworks - but for this project, Julie recognises that digital printing makes absolute sense.

 

’The printing process means I get to take something small that escapes attention and make it big. These threatened species deserve to be noticed, and scaling them up creates a bigger impact on the viewer.’

The Big Picture Collective has a strong and clear purpose - to raise awareness about threatened species and to raise funds to increase their protection. ‘I hope a lot of people will engage with this work, and get involved in advocacy and action to preserve these beautiful birds and animals.'

We take inspiration from the wonderful conservationist Jane Goodall, who says .. 

'People say think globally, act locally. Well, if you think globally, it is overwhelming and you do not have enough energy left to act locally.
Just act locally and see what a difference you can make.’

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medium size - 400 x 400mm
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glossy black cockatoo

Ramindjeri land

Kangaroo Island really copped it in the Black Summer bushfires. Key feeding habitats for the Glossy Black Cockatoo were lost, but on the upside, the birds have moved on to some new spots - sheoak forests that were replanted up to 30 years ago to rehabilitate habitat on land that was cleared.

A portion of the sales of Julie's portrait of the Glossy Black Cockatoo goes to the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network, who work to protect and restore habitat, prevent wildlife trauma and keep wildlife in the wild. We'll post more information about their work on the site soon.

little penguin

Ramindjeri land

Little Penguins are a threatened species on Kangaroo Island. Invasive weed species are choking their habitat and rising air temperatures are causing them to experience heat stress in their burrows. They are also at risk from predation by feral cats and goannas. 

A portion of the sales of Julie's portrait of the Little Penguin helps support the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network, who are working hard to save this species on KI. We'll post more information about their work on the site soon.

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green and golden bell frog

Eastern australia

Frogs are such a reliable indicator of a healthy ecosystem, so the huge influx of reports of sick and dead frogs across eastern Australia is a very serious worry. 

 

Using data gained from Australia’s biggest frog count (FrogID week completed on November 21), the Australian Museum’s FrogID team is working closely with Australian Registry of Wildlife Health and government biosecurity and environment agencies to understand the scale of this mass mortality event, leading the research to understand the likely causes.

 

A portion of the sales of Julie's portrait of the Giant Barred Frog goes to the Australian Museum Foundation’s urgent appeal. We'll post more information about the work of the Australian Museum on the site soon.

mountain pygmy possum 

Kunama Namadji to wiradjuri land

This sweet little possum is at risk because of threats to its habitat in the alpine areas of the Snowy Mountains.

Australian Ecosystems Foundation Inc are working with a range of stakeholders to run a breeding program at Secret Creek Sanctuary in Lithgow NSW, hoping to see if the Mountain Pygmy-possum can adapt to living in warmer temperatures at lower altitudes. 

A portion of the sales of Julie's portrait of the Mountain Pygmy-possum helps support the good work of the Australian Ecosystems Foundation Inc team at Secret Creek.

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gang-gang cockatoo

Ngunnawal land

'Since the bushfires of 2019-20, Gang-gang numbers have plummetted,' says Julie, 'so it feels very privileged to live in a place that the Gang-gangs like to be.'

 

'You pretty much always hear a Gang-gang well before you see one. They make creaky sounds like rusty old farm gates, opening and closing in the distance. They are always in pairs, nattering like fond old couples.'

 

A portion of the sales of Julie's portrait of the Gang-gang helps support the good work of Michael Mulvaney and the Red Hill Generators. 

You can find out more about the project or buy Julie's portrait by clicking on the links below. 

Giant barred frog

eastern Australia

Frogs are such a reliable indicator of a healthy ecosystem, so the huge influx of reports of sick and dead frogs across eastern Australia is a very serious worry. 

 

Using data gained from Australia’s biggest frog count (FrogID week completed on November 21), the Australian Museum’s FrogID team is working closely with Australian Registry of Wildlife Health and government biosecurity and environment agencies to understand the scale of this mass mortality event, leading the research to understand the likely causes.

 

A portion of the sales of Julie's portrait of the Giant Barred Frog goes to the Australian Museum Foundation’s urgent appeal. We'll post more information about the work of the Australian Museum on the site soon.

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kangaroo island dunnart

Ramindjeri land

Kangaroo Island in South Australia is a kind of Noah's ark of endemic species. Our whole country was shocked to watch the Black Summer fires burn through almost half the island, killing two firefighters and huge numbers of birds, insects, plants and animals. 

The Kangaroo Island Dunnart was already listed as Endangered even before these terrible events. The fires have made food and shelter so much harder to find for these creatures. The surviving population is vulnerable to feral cats and starvation. 

A portion of the sales of Julie's portrait of the Kangaroo Island Dunnart helps support the conservation work of Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. We'll post more information about their work on the site soon. 

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swift parrot

East coast of Australia

‘Because I live in the bush on Dharug and Gundungurra land, I’ve been privileged to spend every day surrounded by lots of native birds,’ says artist, Julie Paterson. ‘That proximity, the daily encounters with Shrike Thrushes and Thornbills and so on.. this is what makes it possible to get to know the birds’ personalities. It’s a lovely, restful thing.’  

Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999, the Swift Parrot is listed as critically endangered. 

A portion of the sales of Julie's portrait of the Swift Parrot helps support the conservation work of Birdlife Australia. We'll post more information about their work on the site soon. 

buy the artwork

long-nosed bandicoot

gayamagal land

‘Recently I was part of a show at Manly Art Gallery & Museum and staying at Q-Station, and I grabbed the chance to take a ferry across the harbour,’ says Julie. ‘At the time I didn’t know about the endangered population of Long-nosed bandicoots at North Head - or the great work Australian Wildlife Conservancy and their partners have been doing to save them - and other species out there. Thank the goddess for people who have great science-based initiatives and the energy to create sanctuaries like this to protect Sydney’s biodiversity.’

A portion of the sales of Julie's portrait of the Long-nosed Bandicoot helps support the conservation work of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

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princess parrot

central and western Australia

The Princess parrot is a bit of a recluse, living out in the desert regions of WA, South Australia and the Northern Territory, and it’s listed as vulnerable in the EPBC Act. The numbers of birds are up and down. Scientists think it’s because of climate change affecting the conditions in their desert habitat.

'This lovely bird was named by some colonial birder after Queen Alexandra of Denmark of all things,' says Julie. 'They come in a few different colours, and this one's a blue. I think he's a bit of a dandy. What's not to love?'

A portion of the sales of Julie's portrait of the Princess Parrot helps support the conservation work of Birdlife Australia. We'll post more information about their work on the site soon. 

'there is something meditative in painting portraits of threatened creatures. For me, it's an act of reverence. I love making them, and I feel proud to be a part of the big picture collective.' 

julie paterson

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ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF COUNTRY

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of all the country on which these threatened species live, and where we live and work.

We recognise their continuing connection to land, water, community and ecology.

We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.