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Botanical imperialism : the cultivated landscape as carpet

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Green, HL (2016) Botanical imperialism : the cultivated landscape as carpet. Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This project is germinated by my immersion in rural Northern Tasmania where I began cultivating heirloom vegetable species as fieldwork and became aware of culturally inherited empirical attitudes towards nature. Fostering a connection between botany and textiles, revealed as pivotal instruments of empirical global trade, I encountered the notion of botanical imperialism through researching Indian textile traditions, focusing on the Mughal 'flower' carpets from the 16th and 17th centuries. Through this research I developed an interest in economic botany, and became aware of the appropriation, control, and economic use of plant cultigens in the context of the capitalist system.
The concept of cultivated landscape as carpet is established to relate fieldwork to broader concerns about commercial cultivation, providing a platform for environmental commentary. The materiality of carpet, a dense, heavy, easily transportable fabric, blanketing what lies beneath historically associated with wealth and power -metaphorically coalesces with seemingly disparate fields of knowledge, textiles, botany, ecology, empire and trade, that this research intersects.
Early studio works -gouache drawings and woven tapestry -compare imagery from fieldwork to empirical types of botanical representation found in art, science and commerce. Abstract botanical symbols and compositional elements such as centre/edge and shifting scale combine to express the manipulation and transportation of economic botany across global boundaries. The resultant depictions appeared constrained by intellectualised conceptions of the cultivated landscape and act as a catalyst for and are integral to the development and understanding of ensuing work.
This journey positions my practice as contributing to a cultural record of plant conservation in relation to visual artists using botanical representation in their work such as Andrew Seward, Lauren Black, Ruth Johnstone and Chris De Rosa; as a platform for environmental commentary such as Fiona Hall, Janet Laurence, Ken and Julia Yonetani; and those responding intuitively to place and making, such as John Wolseley, G.W Bot and Julie Mehretu.
My deep experiential, sensorial connection to land revealed the potency and reverence of seed. Influenced by transformative life events -birth and death-my art making and thinking processes shifted to become intrinsically linked to fluid, intuitive responses to cultivation, comprising networks of interconnected systems, akin to woven fabric. In subsequent drawing works I made and embedded plant material in paper, creating indexical traces of dried seed heads, with fibrous matter, oil stains, soil remnants remaining as textural impressions. Appearing light as air and heavy as ground, with the trace rendered grey and left bare, the liminal space in the drawings evokes the transformational state of being, encapsulated within making, cultivation, and life cycles contained within this project.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Master)
Keywords: botany, textiles, tapestry weaving, cultivation, environmental art, drawing, Mughal carpets
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2016 the author

Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2017 05:37
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2017 02:05
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