• Suzy Costello, workbooks

Mid term break, 31 Aug-4 Sept 2020

Updated: Oct 26

Printmaking and research on cicada


Over the mid semester break I've been going into the printroom at Massey to play around with some colour ideas that I was exploring at The Learning Connexion. Printmaking is my peaceful place. For this exercise the intention is to create a push-pull effect that unsettles the reading of the work.

Using Flint waterbased inks is new to me. They dry quickly, unlike the Aqua that I've used before. And the polyester plates being used may have a plastic coating on them which this is probably affecting how the ink is being released (or not)! I don't mind the texture, in fact I quite like it despite the intention of wanting it smooth. It would be good though to understand why I am unable to control the ink transfer.

This artwork uses earth pigments - ochre, burnt sienna and carbon black. The patterning suggests an opportunity to envisage it as a tonal carpet made from clay, pohutukawa stamen and bark. This could be explored further e.g. using clay from the site where I collected the cicada? peeling off bark from the pohutukawa stumps and straighten it? It could be quite beautiful and tie all the summer materials I've collected together.

2.MOSQUE MASSACRE BOOK For a Massey course last year I made a book of the mosque massacre. A friend suggested I contact a member of the Muslim community in Wellington, which I did last week. We met and discussed family, the book, the ongoing aftermath of the tragedy and the victim impact statements presented at the recent court sentencing. She suggested it would be good for her community to have a voice, it may help healing, and asked me to write a letter explaining what the intention of the art project was. This is it...I will wait for their reply.

To the Muslim community of Aotearoa...

As I watched the first public funerals for those who died in the mosque massacre last year, the seed of this book was planted. Standing outside the Massey University quadrant, alongside hundreds of other students, I remember feeling the call to prayer wrap itself around us, joining us all together, and I was deeply moved that those who had experienced such sorrow and suffering might share this occasion with other New Zealanders.

This book is an offering to the Muslim and Christchurch community and is intended to be a gift to them, if they wish, and the Christchurch City Library.

The first part of the book is composed using headlines sourced from March 16-22, 2019 in The Press newspaper. It tells of the unfolding events and a community and country trying to make sense of the tragedy.

The second part of the book is yet to be is a question waiting for an answer. To me, it feels important to ask you, the Muslim community of Aotearoa, if you would like your voices to be heard, to be given an opportunity to say what you need to say in response to this tragedy?

This could be using some of the words reported from the victim impact statements during the recent court sentencing, or other words of your own that you might like to write. If you are happy to share them with me, I will arrange these words on the other side of the book.

I am happy to be guided by your community and to come and meet with you if you like. And if you feel it is not appropriate to respond then that is okay too.

My warmest regards,

3.RESEARCH ON CICADA (Unedited yet, just copied and pasted)

This is some additional research on the cicadas to answer some questions I am wondering about -

  1. Do trees/plants benefit from the cicada nymph feeding on their sap? is it a symbiotic relationship? Cicada Mania "Periodical cicadas are parasites of trees, more specifically of deciduous trees (leaves fall off in the fall) native to the region in which the periodical cicadas exist (maples, oaks, ash, etc.). The term parasite has negative connotations, but in the grand scheme of things, parasites can benefit their hosts, or other species by keeping their hosts in check. Cicadas provide trees a service by pruning the weak branches of a tree. Cicadas lay eggs in the branch, weak branches wither and die (“flagging”), and the tree benefits from that by not having to waste energy on a weak or diseased branch. Cicadas also do the trees a service by dying and releasing a vast amount of nutrients back into the soil. When the cicadas die, it’s like dumping bags of fertilizer around the roots of the trees. The extra nutrients should result in a spurt in tree growth and seed production the following spring, which would result in an increase in tree populations. A small percentage of small, weak trees will die during each emergence, particularly non-native species (like imported ornamentals). This can be frustrating for people concerned with the landscaping on their property, but in terms of trees in general, it’s not as bad as it seems. The fertilizing and pruning cicadas perform will actually benefit the older trees in such a way that will encourage them to produce more seeds the following year. Any loss of trees will be balanced by gains in the following years. Also, cicadas may do native trees a favor by weakening or killing non-native ornamental trees, which compete for the native tree’s food."

  2. Cicada wings? i) Using solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the team found that the veins and membranes of cicada wings were composed of different proteins than locusts. They also detected differing ratios of protein to chitin — a strong, fibrous substance — in these structures. In an earlier study, scientists using a different method detected virtually no chitin in the locust wing membrane. The researchers say that this difference in chitin could help explain why cicada wings are relatively heavy compared to a locust’s, and why cicadas can only fly short distances.

  3. what is a cicada's exoskeleton made of? Ephraim Cohen, in Encyclopedia of Insects (Second Edition), 2009 Chitin is the second most abundant polysaccharide in nature, and is commonly found in lower organisms such as fungi, crustaceans, and insects, but not in mammals. It has always been assumed that the fiber in insects is mainly chitin, but amino acids account for 9–33% of the weight of acid detergent fiber (ADF) content (Finke, 2007). Chitin is the most abundant organic constituent in the skeletal material of arthropods, annelids, and mollusks, where it provides skeletal support and body armor. Chitin sometimes functions in a manner similar to that of collagen in chordates. It forms the tough, fibrous exoskeletons of insects, crustaceans and other athropods, and in some fungi. It is estimated that over 100 gigatons of chitin are synthesized in the biosphere per annum. Chitin is found throughout the exoskeletons of most insects, where it may be present in amounts ranging up to 60% in special parts such as the flexible portions. The average chitin content in the cuticle of a number of different species is reported to be 33%. The cuticle consists of alternate layers of protein and chitin impregnated with calcium carbonate and pigments and interspersed with polyphenols. The name chitin stems from the Greek work for tunic or envelope. During the complex molting process in arthropods, the chitin in the cuticular region (the endocuticle), which is close to the epidermal cells, is degraded. Since chitin microfibrils are tightly associated with various cuticular proteins, proteolytic activity accompanies and facilitates chitin hydrolysis. Hydrolysis of chitin does not occur in the exocuticle, where sclerotization of the cuticular protein takes place. Formation and secretion of chitinases by epidermal cells, processes that are under hormonal control, are vital for the molting process. The mono- and disaccharide degradation products are absorbed by the epithelial cells and may be recycled to serve for biosynthesis of the new chitin. Chitin fine powder was first applied as a wound-healing accelerator by Balassa in 1970. A fungal mat including Penicillium was also applied for wound healing following chemical treatments, defatted by chloroform and sterilization. Paoletti, Norberto, Damini, and Musumeci (2007) demonstrated that chitin digestion by humans is possible. They found chitinases in several human tissues and their role has been associated with defense against parasite infections and to some allergic conditions. Chitin and chitin derivatives have nonspecific antiviral and antitumor activities and it was shown to have an effect on innate and adaptive immune responses including the ability to recruit and activate innate immune cells (Lee, Silva, Lee, Hartl, & Elias, 2008). Chitin is rapidly biodegraded (Zobell & Rittenberg, 1983). The annual worldwide chitin production has been estimated to be 1011 tons, and industrial use has been estimated to be 10,000 metric tons (Kurita, 2006). Chitin has excellent biocompatibility, nontoxicity, and wound-healing properties, so it has been widely applied in medical and health-care fields for applications such as release capsules for drugs, man-made kidney membranes, anticoagulants, and immunity accelerants (Cho, Cho, Chung, Yoo, & Ko, 1999; Matsuyama, Kitamura, & Naramura, 1999; Muzzarelli, 1977; Okamoto et al., 2002; Onishi, Nagai, & Machida, 1997; Tokura et al., 1990). However, chitin is not soluble in common solvents due to the existence of intra- and intermolecular hydrogen bonds in chitin and its highly crystalline structure. This strongly restricts many applications of chitin. The world market for chitin is currently estimated at 1000 to 2000 tons. Japan, with an estimated production of 1.5 million lb (6.8 × 105 kg) per year, is by far the largest user. Europe may use 500,000 lb, whereas the United States appears to use about 150,000 to 200,000 lb (70–90 103 kg), but this estimate may be too high. Prices quoted range from $3.50 to $4.50 per pound for chitin and are $6.50 to $100 per pound for chitosan.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram

© 2016 by Suzy Costello   

Created with