Celebrating the unfashionable and the seemingly insignificant has become, to me, an important honouring - a link to the past with an understanding of the importance of unimportant. Curiosity, my research default, starts with the lure of history, and blooms amongst small, often insignificant, details and tales. This year’s theme, Seeds from Home, pushed me into personal territory to explore three places I call home….READ MORE ON EACH OF THE SERIES RATIONALE
The series ‘a tissue, a tissue’ is born of the large, old, Melbourne garden I grew up in.
My mother was not a gardener but in her latter years she spent many hours pressing flowers cut from the large old garden that my father tended. One of my sentimental choices of inheritance was a Tupperware container filled with tissues and between these soft white and pastel ‘leaves’ the garden was contained.
My long term home of Western Australia takes a broader view. I read about the many collectors in the early years of settlement and the race for knowledge and understanding of their new environment. Collecting specimens of plants was both a scientific and artistic pursuit with plenty of women excelling in both the chase of the new and of the necessary documentation.
‘Girt by Sand and Sea’ celebrates many collectors and regions of W.A. Linked by the taxonomy ‘muelleri’ I have produced vases with the name of most of shires that have plants identified by (Baron) Ferdinand Von Mueller. The numerical count on each vase is that of plants bearing his name. A bit of a cad, he, memorably, was variously engaged to three of his collecting ladies but married none.
‘Pick up your skirts’ is a specific nod to three of those dedicated ‘collecting ladies’– Margaret Forrest, Ellis Rowan and Marianne North - whose expertise with the paintbrush in recording those plants immortalised them.
My bush rambles spotting local native plants, in Dwellingup, our home away from home, was the impetus for ‘Sweet Black Tea’. Here I tell a tale of the Dwellingup bushfire of 1961 with a more domestic view - that of those who support heroes;
As the town and the bush were burning, one of the three buildings left standing, the Pub, became the town’s shelter and spirit. The kitchen supported those on the front line, and those waiting were kept busy maintaining an essence of normality with the making and drinking of sweet black tea.