For millennia the beauty, wonder and uses of plants and flowers have been subjects of fascination for artists. The earliest surviving botanical illustration dates back to the year 512 and formed part of a pharmacopoeia of herbs and medicines. In China, brush paintings of old trees, bamboo and rocks by scholar-artists evolved into an independent genre during the Tang dynasty (618-906). By the 1600s many European artists were producing still life paintings of combinations of flowers and fruit, and the creation of flower studies for pure visual pleasure became widespread during the tulip mania of the mid-1600s.
The Botany of Desire exhibition takes its inspiration from a book of the same name published in the early twenty first century which explores the reciprocal relationship between people and plants. It highlights the human desire that connects us to plants and the ways in which plants have shaped our behaviour to their own ends. The exhibition presents work by a wide range of artists from the late 19th century through to the present day, and includes painting, photography, sculpture, video and decorative arts.
Image: Milan Milojevic, Night and Day (The Tree) 2016 (detail), digital/etching/woodcut print. Courtesy the artist and Colville Gallery, Hobart.
Enter the Lair is a family friendly interactive exhibition that presents a selection of works by Jazmina Cininas that provide an imaginative window into the fantasy world of the female werewolf. Interactive elements including mask making kits and a large photographic backdrop have been produced especially for the exhibition, enabling visitors to immerse themselves into the imagined worlds and histories of the female werewolf.
Jazmina Cininas is a Melbourne-based artist, arts writer and curator who lectures in printmaking at the RMIT School of Art. For over two decades now, Jazmina has been charting the various incarnations of the female werewolf as a vehicle for her printmaking practice. Her PhD research project saw her create a Girlie Werewolf Hall of Fame by identifying women from throughout history who may qualify as female werewolves and selecting a number of them to portray as reduction linocut portraits.
Image credit: Jazmina Cininas, Christina sleeps on both sides of Grandma’s bed, 2010, reduction linocut. Courtesy of the artist.
Tattoos, science fiction, B-grade movies and secret societies – this is the fodder of Rona Green, an artist renowned for her prints and paintings of anthropomorphic characters. Champagne taste and lemonade pockets presents a menagerie of identities drawn from the last decade of Green’s printmaking practice.
Adorned with the tattoos and uniforms of archetypal gangsters, urban legends and ‘Aussie’ stereotypes, Green creates a fantastical world where dogs postulate as stand over men, cats become villainous masterminds and rabbits are fierce cyber warriors. Funny, charming and habitually disturbing, Green’s work highlights the link between social and cultural identity and matters of power, value systems, and ideology.
A Bendigo Art Gallery touring exhibition
Image: Rona Green, McGoohan, 2015, hand coloured linocut. Courtesy the artist and Australian Galleries.