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.
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.
Ray Hearn’s True Ned presents a different view of the Ned Kelly story to that depicted in Sidney Nolan’s famous series of paintings. Through Hearn’s paintings, ceramics and assemblages, he examines the artistic influences on Nolan during his early Kelly period including the relatively new phenomenon of the cartoons of Walt Disney.
Underpinning Hearn’s exhibition is a view of Kelly as a bandit hero, a kind of renegade who emerges in rural societies where sharp divisions exist between rich and poor, and where rural communities are facing a period of sudden change or distress.
Join us to hear renowned academic and Ned Kelly historian John McQuilton speak on the exhibition and its related themes on Sunday 25 February from 3pm.
Image: Ray Hearn, Bang, 2006. Found object, timber, corrugated iron.