PODCAST EPISODE 55: Brenna Quinlan, permaculture illustrator, co-author of the Bee Detectives, Melliodora, Victoria, Australia

I like art that is joyful. Playful. Often childlike. The kind of work where the artist’s hand lightly brings people, objects, animals and places to life in a way that seems completely effortless. I like colour, too. The kind of combining of colour that sparks energy, vivacity, and shows a certain sensitivity shared between the artist and the world. Artists, in my experience, have a way of connecting with the world that is unique. They build a relationship with it, speak with it, and through those intimate conversations, they make new representations of how it feels to be alive and in connection with other humans and the planet. It seems big, and it is! We need more people that take the time to envision the times in which we are living with a new sense of positivity—to make pictures of a bright future so we can make that vision happen. For that reason, I am thrilled to introduce the crazily talented Brenna Quinlan to the BEES WITH BEN beekeeping podcast for episode 56. Permaculture illustrator, co-author of the remarkable Bee Detectives, activist and educator— I am sure that you will all be as overjoyed with Brenna’s work as I am.

Little vegies pop out from plump garden beds. A pair of young and wide-eyed detectives with oversized magnifying glasses seek out and explain the life of bees. Native plants are drawn in their stunning colours and marvellous forms. And diagrams of permaculture cycles and processes are articulated through illustrated flow charts, making science easy to understand. Brenna Quinlan is a fantastic illustrator. I came upon her work on Instagram, where I marvelled at her incredible drawings and visions of the world; they made me feel like a kid again, but also like I had (which I do) a responsibility to make this world and planet a better place. Her book The Bee Detectives— co-authored with Vanessa Ryan-Rendall—made me smile from ear to ear! Brenna is also an educator, and I can see how children and adults alike would be beyond thrilled to be her student. She is part of the Formidable Vegetable teaching team for the School Permaculture Tour program run in association with Resource Smart Schools Victoria, and she teaches and collaborates with Milkwood Permaculture.

For the past four years she has lived a low-impact lifestyle at Melliodora on Dja Dja Wurrung country—a permaculture demonstration site created by permaculture co-originator David Holmgren and his partner Su Dennett in Central Victoria, Australia. This community grows its own food, keeps happy animals, and builds sustainable living arrangements. There is no doubt in my mind that Brenna’s lifestyle is a perfect vision for the future we see illustrated in her amazing artworks.

Tune in to hear Brenna and I talk about bees, native flora and fauna, art and sustainability.


PODCAST EPISODE 55: Brenna Quinlan, permaculture illustrator, co-author of the Bee Detectives, Melliodora, Victoria, Australia

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