Part 1: Louise Fowler-Smith
Part 2: Uncle Dean Kelly
Part 3: Uncle Dean Kelly (cont)
Part 4: David Curtis
Part 5: David Curtis (cont)
Part 6: Professor Brett Summerell
Part 7: Professor Brett Summerell (cont)
Part 8: Ms Michelle Rose

Part 9: Ms Michelle Rose (cont)
Part 10: Ms Michelle Rose (cont)

Arboreal Narratives 2023: In Conversation, TREE SYMPOSIUM, April 15th


2pm – 4.30pm, Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf

The President and Founder of the Tree Veneration Society will lead symposium speakers in an exploration of successful strategies for artists and others to encourage positive engagement with trees and the natural environment in an increasingly urgent context, each from their unique interdisciplinary perspectives – indigenous, creative, scientific and local.


2.00pm – Acknowledgement of Country by Uncle Dean Kelly
2.15pm – Introduction by Ms Louise Fowler-Smith, President and Founder, Tree Veneration Society
2.25pm – Uncle Dean Kelly, Aboriginal Elder, La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council
2.50pm – Dr David Curtis, EcoArt Australis
3.15pm – Professor Brett Summerell, Chief Scientist & Director Science, Education & Conservation, Botanic Gardens of Sydney
3.40pm – Ms Michelle Rose, Environmental Education Officer, Woollahra Council
4.05pm – Audience Q&A with the speakers
4.20pm – Final comments by Ms Louise Fowler-Smith


LOUISE FOWLER-SMITH is an eco-artist and writer who has been researching the ‘Sacred Tree’ for the past two decades and has found that the practice of venerating or honouring Trees has been able to protect Trees in some parts of the world. Fowler-Smith is the Founder and President of the Tree Veneration Society Inc.

DEAN KELLY is both a South Coast NSW Saltwater Yuin, Walbunja, Dhoorga Gurandgi cultural man through his father, and Western NSW Freshwater stone country cultural Wailwan, Nypampai Man through his mother. Kelly is a member of the Botany Bay Aboriginal Community and is also accepted as belonging to the La Perouse Aboriginal Community. As a Cultural Practitioner, his true passion and cultural obligation is dedicated to the protection and preservation of Aboriginal cultural heritage. His is also a passionate voice for nature.

DAVID CURTIS has been growing trees for 50 years. He began growing them in his student accommodation in Armidale NSW and then later went on to research eucalyptus dieback and how to grow trees in dieback affected landscapes. In the early 1980s he founded the Armidale Tree Group which since that time has grown some 3 million trees and still runs a thriving farm tree nursery and tree planting service. He later moved to Wollongong with his wife Fran and worked with Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority on an incentives scheme for landholders to encourage them to regenerate their natural bushland, and then later with the department of Environment and then Primary Industries, working in natural resource policy.

His trans-disciplinary sociology research through the Institute of Rural Futures and the School of Ecosystem Management at the University of New England examined the role that the arts have in shaping environmental attitudes and behaviours. He found that the arts could significantly affect environmental attitudes through aiding in the communication of environmental information, creating empathy for the natural environment, and catalysing ecological sustainability. He has organised several large community arts events and is founder, and current president, of EcoArts Australis Inc., a group dedicated to using the arts to further environmental sustainability. He has published two graphic novels: (one about rural dieback and one about climate change), and is currently writing a book on how the arts shape environmental behaviour.

PROFESSOR BRETT SUMMERELL is Chief Scientist at the Australian Institute of Botanical Science, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust in Sydney. He is an Adjunct Professor at Kansas State University and the University of Sydney and a Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg. He maintains a research interest in plant diseases and fungi and has published over 150 refereed papers and books. He is a Fellow of the Australasian Plant Pathology Society and of the American Phytopathological Society and was a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Agriculture and Life Sciences based at Kansas State University for the latter half of 2018.

MS MICHELLE ROSE is an environmental educator with a passion for strengthening and deepening community connections to our amazing natural areas. She works collaboratively with residents, community gardens, families, and schools to facilitate local projects that protect nature and support sustainability action. Her appreciation for trees stems from a childhood spent exploring the neighbouring bushland and recent years out on the trail bushwalking. Michelle works with Woollahra Council’s Environment and Sustainability team and has worked with Nature Conservation Council NSW Healthy Ecosystems team.

Sponsors & Supporters

A big Thankyou to all of our Supporters and Sponsors!
The Symposium and associated events are proudly supported by Woollahra Council and the Symposium is sponsored by Bondi Wash