MOUND: Leaf and Twig Conservatorium 

Bendigo Conservatory 16th October to 5th November

Forest Keegel in consultation with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation

Words Klare Lanson, Sounds Amanda King, Documentary Leonie Van Eyk, Curlew photos Diane Ralton.


Funded by City of Greater Bendigo Art in the Conservatory program 2017 

Usually encouraged to clean up private property in preparation for fire season, Forest Keegel will inspire residents to become ground birds, to collect and transport leaf litter and tree debris from their gardens to the Conservatory instead of burning or adding to waste landfill areas. To make a large-scale sculptural mound.
— Klare Lanson

The Bendigo Conservatory will be transformed into an art laboratory for contemplative study, investigation, reflective replication and many other experiments focussed on a giant mound of branches, sticks, twigs and leaf litter diverted from burn offs and green waste. 

The aim of the project is to highlight the importance of tree debris in providing habitat and food source for birds, in particular ground nesting birds such as the Bush Stone-curlew and Malleefowl and to engage the community with environmental science through art.

Local residents are invited to contribute to the building of the MOUND and may bring twigs and sticks from local bush species that they are cleaning up on their properties, in preparation for fire season, to the conservatory instead of burning or taking them to the tip. 

At the end of the exhibition the tree debris will be used in the Save Our Bush Stone-curlews captive breeding and release program.

Birds, the bushland, weather, twigs and debris, other wildlife, technology and people —all are elements that have roles to play in maintaining the sustainability of an ecosystem. This intricate balance of viable living practice is paramount to the wellbeing of the birdlife and their related environ. MOUND is a creative project that activates these understandings in playful and inclusive ways. 
— Klare Lanson


Read Klare Lanson's response to MOUND: Leaf and Twig Conservatorium




MOUND building

Bring your unwanted sticks and branches to the Conservatory to become vital habitat for endangered species

Local residents are invited to contribute to the building of the MOUND. The artist does not advocate removing leaf litter from the ground but if you are cleaning up your property in preparation for fire season, please bring leaves, twigs and sticks that have been dropped by local bush species to the conservatory, instead of burning or taking them to the tip. Leaves can be bagged. The MOUND will be made of sticks and leaves from local eucalypts and wattle species. Please do not include exotic and garden plants.

At the end of the exhibition the tree debris will be used in the Save Our Bush Stone-curlews captive breeding and release program.

If you have leaves and twigs and small branches that that you would like to gift to the MOUND. Small amounts of twigs and leaves can be brought to the MOUND during opening hours. If you have more than a shopping basket of twigs and leaves to donate contact Forest Keegel prior to 11 October on 0402 035 521. Delivery of large amounts eg trailer loads can occur during the bump in 9- 14 October but must be by prior arrangement.


Conservatory open to the public

Artist in Conservatory for public engagement Monday 16 October until Sunday 5 November on the following days


Mondays             5 - 6pm Commencing 16 October

Wednesdays      11 am - 3pm

Fridays                4 - 6pm

Saturdays            2pm- 6pm

Sundays              11am - 3pm Final Sunday 5 November


Artistic Laboratory 

The artist will experiment in the following practices and invite the public to engage in them too

  • drawing leaves, twigs, sticks from the mound

  • string making

  • constructing sculptures from twigs

  • dipping leaves and twigs in clay.

  • looking closely at leaves and twigs with microscopes and magnifying glasses


Audio Artist Amanda King will create an atmospheric  Soundscape of field recordings and bird calls including Bush Stone-curlew, Mallefowl and other birds and sounds of their habitat to play in the conservatory. 


Opening Event Sunday 15th October 2pm- 4pm

Welcome to country and Smoking ceremony Dja Dja Wurrung

City Of Greater Bendigo Mayor 


Workshops with Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owner Marilyne Nicholls

Indigenous coil basket weaving with Sedges.  BOOKINGS

Wednesday 18 October

Workshop 1:  10:30am-12.30

Workshop 2: 5:30 - 7:30pm

Suitable for 12 years and over. 


Bird Week 23-29 October

Wednesday 25th October 12.30-1.30pm Save Our Bush Stone-curlews talk and display about the captive breeding and release program.

Judy Crocker and Jenny Steele


Workshops for all ages with environmental educator Nicole Howie

Nest building

Saturday 28 October and Sunday 29 October 12 - 1pm

Investigating Leaf Litter

Saturday 28 October and Sunday 29 October 2 - 3pm

Please book a place on Eventbrite


Biodiversity Table

Information for visitors about what they can do to improve bushland bird habitat.

Local environmental groups are invited to contribute information, sign up sheets and pamphlets relevant to the themes of MOUND. 



A Jurassic garden of tree ferns and Australian plants using plants from City Of Greater Bendigo nursery stock and Co created with Richard Lawson.

The organic matter collected is not only fundamental to the ecology of the surrounding forest but also forms essential components of the season long accumulation of nesting material for the Malleefowl. It is also vital for the Bush-stone Curlew and other endangered ground dwelling birds, providing a vital insectivorous food source. A flora-based curation of sorts will also occur within this project, where a Jurassic garden of tree ferns and Australian plants clustered around the conservatory’s water feature will be co-created by Forest Keegel and Richard Lawson. Alongside this process of art and place making are groups such as Save Our Bush-stone Curlew, botanical illustrators, field Naturalists, and art students—all offering their contributions through talks, workshops and drawing sessions in the Conservatory.

The open structure of these participatory sessions support an organic social flow, where people are welcome to come in and draw, look through microscopes and make/ play with the sticks in the mound. Marilyne Nicholls, Traditional Owner and master basket weaver, will also run a day of basket weaving workshops. Through public workshop and forum activity such as this, material will be contemplated through creative endeavours such as still life drawing, leaf rubbing, sculpture and various other reflective practices. These repetitive and monumental acts of debris reimagining will help to disseminate vital information about all of the birds local to this area and their plight. Afterwards, the leaves and twigs from MOUND will be gifted to the Save Our Bush Stone-curlews captive breeding and release program.

Forest Keegel performs both alongside and within this project. By inviting sound artist Amanda King to create an atmospheric sonic experience comprising soundscape of recorded local bird life blending naturally with the live sounds of the park—the bats, the weather, the trees, people and technology—Keegel enables yet another way to reconsider how we function within the social and how the solitary booming sound of the Malleefowl or the Bush-stone curlew’s ghost-like call play a role in how we connect with the world.
— Klare Lanson
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