PICTORIAL CYCLOPEDIA OF EXOTIC PLANTS
Artist Statement / Notes on Process:
“Pictorial Cyclopedia of Exotic Plants” is a body of work inspired by the burgeoning vibrancy of the botanical world. I am curious about our human relationship with plants - especially the specific quality of life that plants emit and how we experience this. The work so far has been a controlled encounter with the eros of the plant kingdom.
Some musings, challenges and things I have been playing with:
- These works were an experiment in bringing principles from my textile/sculpture studio practice into the painting process. I became aware of the presence of plants in so many of the textiles we take for granted in our daily lives. Once I started looking, plants were everywhere: living areas, restaurants, clothing etc. In “Pictorial Cyclopedia of Exotic Plants”, I played with this abstraction and repeating of botanical forms that I noticed in these daily textiles, suddenly becoming conscious of how ubiquitously they framed my life. I translated them into patterns and layers of cut and painted paper, incorporating watercolour portraits and graphite drawings, “patchworking” them together. In ethnic textiles and traditional quilting, patterned sections of cloth are often layered or placed alongside each other. These can be reworked and mended over generations, as sections of reused and new cloth are incorporated and layers of coloured threads mend inevitable wear. In all of this, a strange visual harmony emerges that is at once mature and flamboyant. I took inspiration from this.
- Intricate and overlapping patterns ; interlocking parts. Layers upon layers in the perceptual field. I have been exploring my own edge of “too much”: too much colour, too much pattern, too much perceptual stimulus. In this work, I experimented with this act of pressing up against my own threshold of over-stimulation - not so much that I became flooded, but just enough that I could research and observe that terrain. (I had a breakthrough with the layers when I started to separate and build them up with dividers, making the compositions 3-dimensional. Finally, I found the sculptural and sensorial quality I was looking for).
I am looking forward to folding this studio research back into my textile work now. This winter, I will be starting work on a new exhibition entitled, “Electric Botanica”. I am curious to see how working in textiles will illuminate different aspects of our human relationship with plants (and my own relationship with them) than my work in paint and paper. Humans are multidisciplinary creatures. I know from experience that my work reveals itself slowly through multiple research streams and artistic modalities, over time and continued commitment. (Note: The title of this exhibition comes from a tome bought at The Book Shop entitled, “Exotica: Pictorial Cyclopedia of Exotic Plants” by Alfred Byrd Graf. I was immediately taken by its’ vintage black and white photo documentation - An exhaustive tour of every type of plant life imaginable. It has been a constant companion to me in the creation of these pieces.)
- A. Goodall, November 2019