Our fast-paced modern life often results in environmental degradation and a disconnect from the natural world around us. Concurrently, the ancient practice of botanical illustration is largely unknown to the general public, resulting in its under-utilisation as an educational resource.
My piece, The Cycle of Life – Native Botanical Sculpture, is unique in its approach to botanical illustration, utilising a different presentation to the norm. Wanting to merge two worlds together, a juxtaposition of the traditional method of botanical illustration fuses with an unorthodox representation of the subject matter.
The piece is open, spacious and free, holding a sense of magic and wonder as the specimen almost floats in mid-air. I wanted to use this piece to captivate people, drawing them into the world of nature and flora while also educating and teaching them about the segmentation of plants. This sculpture shows how a single leaf or a single gumnut can play such a vital role in forming the whole specimen. I would like my audience to visualise the dissections of this gum tree and see how every part is individual yet everything is one. The ‘cycle of life’ narrative is strongly evident as the piece depicts the plant’s life stages: from life to death and from beauty to decay.
Being an interactive piece, I hope that people can engage with my work. Physically moving around the piece reveals different perspectives and I encourage people to take time to really see what they are looking at. If they try hard, they can find the ‘sweet spot’ where all the layers line up perfectly into the full composition. I hope that my piece inspires a sense of connection with nature and appreciation of its beauty and encourage viewers to find pleasure and beauty in the simplicity of the complex world we live in.
Below are the specifications of the piece:
The dimensions of my piece: approx. 650mm x 600mm x 750mm
The title of my piece: ‘The Cycle of Life – Native Botanical Sculpture’
The mediums used to create my piece: Traditional illustration: watercolour and gouache on 100% cotton paper. Unorthodox approach: illustrations printed onto transparent plastic and attached to a frame made of wood, with LED lighting to highlight the piece. The whole sculpture was then lit and photographed.
Written by Maria Ppiros
Photography by Gerry Canatselis, @gcanatselisphotography