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Endangered ecosystems preserved in art

Fragile native grasslands and wildlife that are now disappearing due to the rapid urbanisation of Melbourne's west will be preserved on canvas in a panoramic art exhibition opening next week at Sunshine's Granary Cafe.    

'Volcano Dreaming' depicts the Victorian Volcanic Plains Grasslands "" now Australia's most endangered ecosystem "" stretching from the Yarra River to the foothills of the Grampians.

In a series of 12 door-sized panels, the panorama shows a sweeping landscape with dormant volcanoes   inhabited with now-endangered flora and fauna such as the Murnong Daisy and the Striped Legless Lizard, as well as minute details of the undergrowth, including native beetles and lichen-encrusted Basalt rocks. It also shows modern-day threats to the grasslands such as grazing sheep, introduced flora, and suburban development.

The exhibit was created by a local artists' group, 'Inherit Earth', from a compilation of more than 3,000 images collected over two years. The work was commissioned by [email protected], a centre for environmental conservation and sustainability at the University's St Albans Campus.

Environmental educator and ecologist Millicent Burke said the exhibit was designed to be transportable so local schools and environmental groups could study the grasslands in close detail.

"One of the difficulties for grassland conservation is that no one knows what our grasslands looked like," she said. "It's easy to imagine a forest or tropical reef, but people often mistake the pockets of remnant grasslands as disused paddocks."

The project was financed under a "polluter pays" fund supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Magistrates' Court.

Volcano Dreaming will be on display at the Granary Cafe until 21 August, after which it will be used by [email protected] as a touring educational resource for schools, community and environmental groups.   

The Volcano Dreaming exhibition will be complemented with students' art work from Albanvale and St Albans North Primary Schools.

The media are invited to attend the opening of Volcano Dreaming and meet some of the artists.

What: Volcano Dreaming art exhibition
When: Wednesday 27 July 2011
Time: 4.00pm
Where: Gallery Sunshine Everywhere, Granary Cafe, 2 Devonshire Rd, Sunshine
Wendy Lang,  [email protected] Business and Communications Manager,
Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919 2029 or 0432 857 266

Media Contact:
Ann Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer,
Marketing and Communications Department,
Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919 5487 or 0403 556 001.

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