Arboreal Narratives 2023: In Conversation – Tree Festival


10am – 4pm, Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf & Blackburn Gardens

JOIN US FOR OUR TREE FESTIVAL at Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf & Blackburn Gardens. A fantastic family-friendly day with ART WORKSHOPS, a TREE PARADE and SYMPOSIUM, all in celebration of Trees and the natural environment.


10am – 12pm, Blackburn Gardens, FREE, All Ages

1. Listen to the Inner Workings of a Treewith Louise Fowler-Smith
2. Macro Photography with your Smartphonewith Paula Broom
3. Use Natural Materials provided to Weave and Bind Tree Creatures to take homewith Amanda Farquarson
4. Take Home your own Frottage and Drawings from Natural Materialswith Liz Perfect


12.30pm – 1.30pm, Blackburn Gardens, All Welcome

Come and celebrate local significant trees with the artists of the Tree Veneration Society in a procession led by a town crier. Artists will be in costume and headgear and crowns made from natural materials will be available for you to wear!

POSTER – Significant Trees in Blackburn Gardens

3. SYMPOSIUM, Amongst the Artworks

2pm – 4.30pm, Woollahra Gallery

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.

FOR TICKETS, please visit:

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)

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


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.

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.

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.


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

ABOUT Arboreal Narratives

ARBOREAL NARRATIVES is the innovative yearly program of the Tree Veneration Society that pulls together evidence from the creative arts and environmental humanities, from our members, from indigenous artists, scientists and other professionals working in support of nature. We believe that artists and art are agents for positive change and through Arboreal Narratives – an exhibition with talks and workshops – we initiate conversations that engender respect and recognition of the importance of trees and ecosystems to societal health.  

Arboreal Narratives aspires to enhance perceptions of the environment for audiences and participants at a local level and beyond. Research has shown that engaging with nature locally is effective in encouraging pro-environmental behaviour and creating a community that values biodiversity in its own backyard, and further afield. Our program will be disseminated online to have impact beyond the geographical location of Woollahra.