Journal: Vicki Mason – Art & Nature
This last entry presents a few works by artists/designers that have captured my attention. Some I’ve found out about recently and some are old favourites that continue to strike a note. Fiona Hall’s work Leaf Litter (1999–2003) is a work that bears re-visiting again and again. This multilayered work speaks about the fragility of the natural world through looking at colonisation, the relationships plants have with the commercial world/economies, the microcosm/macrocosm and migration (to list just a few of the themes at play in this work).
Leaf Litter (detail), Ranunculus bulbosus; buttercup, gouche on banknotes, 1999–2003
Hooded Tulip, Digital pigment print, 2008
Tim McGuire’s rich delicious layered glazed work paintings are intoxicating. His up close and personal floral images remind me of the work of Georgia O’Keeffe and Karl Blossfeldt whose work I also admire very much. The optical impression of the printing process unpacked and writ large in this print creates saturated colour overkill that has the capacity to transport the viewer to another world.
groundspeed, type C photograph, 2001
Laying carpet in the Australian forest, notably a classic floral 1970s Axminster number in this startling work by Rosemary Laing conjures so many thoughts. This work reflects not only ideas associated with the colonial stain on this land, but talks to ideas relating to the domesticating and ongoing colonisation of the Australian landscape.
Ebba, Colour print on persex, 2004
These next two images come from a fascinating book Art is Flowering. The first is a photograph of a poppy with an egg yolk centre. It is for me at once beautiful and ambiguous, while also being slightly disturbing – no baby bird is going to hatch from this yolk! We are reminded of both life and death and the transient nature of our existence through the use of the innocuous flower – a form so rich with history and symbolism. This work is by Natalia Edenmont.
Louis I and Louis II, installation with plant and cloth edging, 2004
In Regula Dettwiler’s installation Louis I and Louis II lace adorns a rubber plant’s leaves creating a work of elegance and humour. I like the play of the artificial and natural in this work very much.
Bush Banana, acrylic on canvas, 2001
I came across this artist’s work (Lucy Kunoth Kngwarreye) in Margot Osborne’s exhibition catalogue ‘Wild Nature’. The rhythm and beauty of the patterning, colouring and attention to detail draws the eye into the work, so bringing attention to the importance each small part plays in the creation of the whole.
Mason’s pattern book designs
These two beautiful images were sent to me by an English collector of Mason’s ironstone china. These watercolour design templates recorded the ornamental patterns used to decorate some of the various ranges of ceramic wares this manufacturing company produced. I think I prefer them to the actual ceramic wares themselves.
Visions of a Republic : The Work of Lucien Henry, Paris – Noumea – Sydney, 2001
I discovered the work of Lucien Henry in 2008 and have been an admirer ever since. Henry was an influential French born designer who arrived in Australia in 1879. Henry saw Australian flora and fauna as worthy symbols for expressing Australia’s uniqueness and is credited with sowing the seeds for an Australian design style. Henry anticipated the Arts and Crafts Movement and his work and teachings were carried on in Australian technical colleges and by retailers keen to exploit nationalistic sentiments in the lead up to Federation. Henry, along with the advocates of Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movement, pushed for using nature as a suitable subject matter for decoration and preferably using plant forms of local origin. His work is so rich, I particularly love his floral pins.
My trip down the inspirational garden path has come to an end.
I’m off to listen to Radio National then delve into researching why conifers are so ubiquitous in my neck of the suburbs… I’ll also have to see if the gardener in my neighbourhood has any more limes to give away.
Julie Ewington, Fiona Hall, 2005
Cornelie Holzach (ed.), Art is Flowering, Floral Motifs in Jewellery and Contemporary Art, 2007
Margot Osborne, Wild nature in contemporary Australian art and craft, 2002
Ann Stephen, Visions of a Republic : The Work of Lucien Henry, Paris – Noumea – Sydney, 2001
http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au (accessed 13/7/2012)
http://www.artwhatson.com.au/martinbrownefineart/digital-pigment-prints/hooded-tulip (accessed 13/7/2012)