Florae: Bernadette Boscacci & Naomi Smith

Published On June 27, 2013 | By Artgaze | Exhibitions

florae: the plants of a particular region, habitat, or geological period.
ORIGIN late 18th cent.: from Latin flos, flor- ‘flower.’

Bernadette Boscacci, Syzigium suborbiculare - Red bush apple, 2013, wire and plastics (installation view)

Bernadette Boscacci, Syzigium suborbiculare – Red bush apple, 2013, wire and plastics (installation view)

Florae is a mixed media exhibition that brings together the works of two long-time friends and collaborators. The exhibition features works inspired by the plant species from this region – the coastal dry and wet tropics of North Queensland. Included are prints on paper and fabric, needlework, weaving, sculpture, paper-cuts, collage, paintings, drawings, photographs, video and installation.

In many cultures, plants, particularly flowers, have long been used to decorate domestic spaces in the form of floral imagery on crockery, manchester, floral arrangements and as gardens, all of which play a role in the cultural and domestic lives of the users. It stands to reason that we, as humans are more likely to connect with valued parts of our environment because they are either familiar or beneficial to us. And there is evidence that cultures through the ages sought to ‘tame the wild’ by controlling the way it was incorporated into the cultural and domestic spheres.

Naomi Smith, Cassowary, 2013, screenprint

Naomi Smith, Cassowary, 2013, screenprint

Our colonial and modern ancestors did this when they brought species from outside of Australia to decorate their gardens and homes. Generations past now, these same species are seen (and known) as exotics that threaten and dominate native species. One thing is true though, that flora has infinitely fascinating forms, scents, colours and textures that soothe and inspire the human imagination and ground us in our constructed environments – maintaining (however vicariously) our ongoing connection with nature. The domestic is referenced in this exhibition through such works as Naomi’s Quandong Apron, Native gardenia teatowel and sequinned doily, and Bernadette’s Kapok pillow and tablecloth, and her printed fabric lengths featuring Burdekin plums, Poplar gum leaves and native grasses.

What the artist’s have to say:

“My appreciation of flora (and fauna) has grown since childhood – during family camping trips, picnic excursions and times spent in my elders’ gardens. My knowledge and appreciation of native flora developed when I spent time working with Indigenous artists and Rangers in Cape York and the Gulf of Carpentaria. In the last decade I have been fortunate enough to learn more through gardening, while walking and travelling seasonally through country as a field assistant for my partner Peter Buosi, and in making the bush medicine book with Mum Alma. So, I’ve had extensive opportunities to learn about the ecological values of our region’s flora and fauna, and to observe its subtle beauty, from many great teachers and on amazing country! This has been beneficial for me because it’s opened me up to new levels of intimacy with nature, and in doing so, has infinitely enriched my life and perspective.”

Bernadette Boscacci 2013


“Just as plants flower, fruit and seed, so it is that a fascination with plants and the bush has developed through my life. Whenever out bush, your soul is replenished and life invigorated. So many adventures with friends and family in northern rainforests, beaches, wetlands, mountain creeks where we swam as children – which still flow today – and now, the joy of exploring the mangroves of South Townsville with my own children. In the garden, too, there is always hope and energy, discovering the intricacies of the renewal of plant life unfold day by day. I guess it all started with my own mother tending orchids in her garden. The wonders of our plant and wider natural world are gifts for us all, fruits we should appreciate. They are essential for our existence, and we should endeavour to curb their destruction at our hands.”

Naomi Smith 2013

Florae is on display at Umbrella Studios until the 7th of  July 2013. To find out more visit the Umbrella Studios website, their facebook page, or see the exhibition catalogue.

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