Coming into Winter... by Minna Leunig

The days are getting shorter and darker and colder, and I feel like something is brewing deep down within me but I don't know what yet. It's time to hibernate, to reflect, to think about what comes next. I feel like I'm at a crossroad and there is well of nervous excitement within me - wanting to move forward tentatively, cautiously, carefully - yet simultaneously wanting with all my heart to burst out of my shell and fly forward without guard or restraint. I am in awe of life's unpredictability.

Art collective Open Heart Surgery presents 'TOOLANGI' by Minna Leunig

Just recently my good friend Zoe Irving and I (childhood BFF's) created 'Open Heart Surgery' – a fundraising arts collective designed to help fight the logging of Victorian old growth forests. Our first ever event is 'TOOLANGI' – a music and arts event showcasing a diverse range of works from locally based artists, with 100% of the profits going towards the protection of precious old growth forests in Victoria. 

A word about Toolangi... 

Toolangi State Forest, located in Victoria’s central highlands, is home to many unique species and ecosystems which are currently on the brink of ecological collapse. Along with many of its neighbouring old growth Mountain Ash forests, Toolangi provides vital habitat for threatened species such as the Leadbetter Possum (Victoria's faunal emblem), the Powerful Owl, the Sooty owl and the Greater Glide. These beautiful creatures are now in a critical state of survival. Old growth Mountain Ash forests are the only form of habitat in which the Leadbetter possums can survive, and at the current rate of logging it is predicted that it will be extinct within the next 20 - 40 years. 

The Mountain Ash themselves (the world’s tallest flowering tree) now face an uncertain future. There are just 1.5-3% of Mountain Ash forests left as a result of clear-fell logging practices and major bushfires throughout recent decades. Not only do these forests provide vital habitat, they are crucial resources in the face of climate change, storing more carbon per hectare than any other forest studied in the world. Research shows that the older these forests are, the more carbon the trees sequester.

Thankfully, there are many groups making passionate efforts to prevent these forests from being logged. The Great Forest National Park is gaining more and more support, and if it goes ahead will ensure the protection of many areas of these forests. Recently, a case bought forward by Environmental Justice Australia on behalf of the Friends of the Leadbetter Possum has succeeded in halting Vicforests from logging in 34 areas with a Federal Court order. This is temporary though, with a two day hearing taking place from the 14th of December. 

Funds raised at this event will go directly towards supporting Environmental Justice Australia in their fight to expose the unlawful logging practices of Vicforests. Further funds will be contributed towards the Great Forest National Park.

'TOOLANGI' | 16th October 3.30pm | The Old Bar, 74-76 Johnson St, Fitzroy

For more information: www.greatforestnationalpark.com.au | Open Heart Surgery Instagram

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Artist feature with Stick Around Tattoo by Minna Leunig

This November I'm the featured artist at Stick Around Tattoo. Look at all the flash I've designed! For bookings, get in touch with the talented Al Stimpson at stickaroundtattoo@gmail.com or check out www.stickaroundtattoo.com and instagram too... @stick_around_tattoo 

If you'd like to use one of these designs but don't live in Melbourne and can't get to see Al, a tattoo token can be purchased here which gives you all the permission you need. 

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Stream of consciousness (writings from Spiegelau) by Minna Leunig

Wandering across bright green meadows, the warmth of the sun on my back. Pink and white wild flowers brush against my bare legs, and from the woods tall dark trees watch down upon me as I make my way through such beauty it doesn't feel real, like a children's storybook from long ago. I've been starved of the freedom to simply BE for so long, and now every fibre of my being is drinking this feeling in. How did I find myself in the midst of such tranquility? Just for a moment I am fooled into thinking that all is well with the world, that everyone on this earth is okay. It seems so odd to think that they are not, that on the contrary there is a great deal of suffering going on, that just a short time ago the very land upon which I walk now was overwhelmed with the pain and sorrow of countless souls, including my grandmothers, all aching in ways unimaginable to me. And yet here I am, healing little by little in the warm sunshine, delightedly basking in my own solitude.

I feel overwhelmed by the passing of time - tears salty on my cheeks, I am a mere spec sitting at the edge of these woods contemplating just how BIG the world is, like a child might - and I'll never be able to fully grasp the true meaning of it. Thinking about all those who have come before me, and all those who are yet to exist. So many lives and stories I will never know of, so many moments of joy and of sadness felt. Perhaps once feelings come to exist they never truly leave the landscape, but instead become a part of it - like leaves falling from trees that gradually, over many thousands of years build up and become the forest floor. Surely the earth must be overflowing with feeling by now?

I am afraid about what comes next, about the inevitable pain I will face in life, about the lack of guarantees. Society fools you into thinking that life can be made orderly, that things are more or less under control. But they're not. This earth is wild and unpredictable, and the universe doesn't owe you anything. We can't control what comes next or when it comes. We make it up as we go along.

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