Fig. 1. As part of the arts program of the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) conference, Armidale, 2003, this commissioned image by Anna Curtis, In the Balance, summarized the themes of the conference. The seed sprouting in the innermost circle represents new growth, the essence of life. The tiny seed represents a container of huge potential, whether plant or animal. The second circle represents the spiral of life; the force ‘within us and beyond us, that which is the continuum of life.’ The third circle represents Australian native fauna and includes the extinct gastric brooding frog, the endangered bilby and dugong, the echidna, possum, wombat, platypus, and flying fox. The fourth circle represents native flora and includes some of Australia’s best known native flowers and fruits (Eucalyptus, Grevillea, Banksia, Acacia, Melaleuca, Callistemon, and Leptospermum). These four circles together represent the earth. The circle is ‘womb like, protecting and nurturing.’ The area surrounding the earth represents sky and ocean. Like embryonic fluid, it’s a buffer zone. The birds and fish represent evolution, i.e., a sense of timelessness and continual change. The border incorporates changing landscapes caused by human interaction and intervention, including fire and regeneration, native grassland, woodland, wetlands, drought, erosion, salinity, insect attack, land clearing. The healthy rural setting includes biodiversity, greenbelts, tree planting, waterways, farming trees, crops, animals, and people. In her artist’s statement the artist wrote: “To keep everything In the Balance, we must learn to work with nature, not against it. To respect the land, not abuse it. Through this artwork, I have attempted to communicate these concerns as well as creating an image that can be viewed on many levels. It is a meditative image, a mandala, a place to contemplate. What lies over the hill? What’s hidden beyond the mountain? Will the new shoot grow into a giant tree or a bean stalk? The unknown holds a sense of hope for the future.” Lino reduction print on paper, 30 x 30 cm, 2003. See for how the image was constructed (Copyright Anna Curtis).

Fig. 1