Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Botanical Panels

Umbrella Plant

Christmas Cactus

Artist’s Statement

As a little girl I used to spend the weekends in my grannies house where she lived with my uncle. The house was always in disrepair, the garden a jungle, no hot water, no heating. Rooms ran into other rooms and there I could get lost as my mother did before me. The memories that stand out to me the most are those of my uncle. How he took me up on the roof to show me stars; how he watched the football with the TV on mute because the radio commentary was better; how he used to play with the hairs on his arm by wetting his fingers and flattening them down; how he loved to draw bunnies and was never too busy to play with me.
I remember that the house was so cold the inside of the windows would frost. I remember his love of trees. How one year he went into the garden and collected all the seeds that had fallen and planted each one in its own pot and every pot inside a window. I remember how he fooled around with me at his fathers funeral. How shortly after he too succumbed to cancer. How he left behind him all his trees.
Each of us took a few home to remember him by. For years mine lined the bedroom window and when I left home they came with me. The day before I started art college the very first drawing I did in my new sketchbook was of my last remaining tree, his tree, a rowan. And when it died I felt him die again.
I’ve chosen to make these panels as a way of remembering him, so that little tree can live on and so can he. Glass is fragile the way we all are, and life is fleeting and impermanent. I have chosen to depict plants in my panels in a way that will show this. The backgrounds are dark and the sandblasted engravings leave them as white silhouettes. I have constructed them in this way so they appear ghostlike. We do not look at the plant itself but the absence of it. So many creatures of this world are dwindling, so many are ready extinct and as my father says ‘we are the generation that ate the planet’. I wanted these panels to be reminiscent of ancient fossils, where a trace of life remains, or amber where insects are trapped and an echo of that life can be seen long after the life itself is extinguished. These ghost plants are symbolic of death and the destruction man has left in his wake.
The tree with its transparent leaves is to carry the same message, it is the autumn of our years on this earth, with its leaves turning and falling to the ground. I love nature and I wanted to capture a little bit of it. Like taking a snapshot then watching it diminished, before it is finally and eternally gone.

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