Replant: a new generation of botanical art


2008 – 2011


Northern Territory: Alice Springs, Darwin, Tennant Creek

Queensland: Brisbane

New South Wales: Sydney, Windsor

Australian Capital Territory: Canberra

Victoria: Mildura

Tasmania: Burnie

South Australia: Adelaide

About the poster

Replant: a new generation of botanical art was a ground-breaking exhibition that straddled the boundaries between science and art.

You do not see things on their own, but in an interconnected way with everything else. It is a whole intermeshing of life forms and the matrix of seeing through a landscape where everything is entwined and related.

Judy Watson

In March 2006 three custodians of traditional knowledge and two ethno-botanists joined six artists, a photographer, two printmakers and two curators on a journey to observe the natural world around Nauiyu, a community on the banks of the Daly River in the Northern Territory.

The project involved:

Custodians of traditional knowledge of the Nauiyu, Daly River, Fitzmaurice region: Biddy Lindsay Yiyguun (MalakMalak and Ngolok Wanga), Patricia Marrfurra (Ngen’giwumirri. Malfiyin) and Marita Sambono (Ngan’gikurrungurr. Ngambu Ngambu)

Ethno-botanists: Dr Greg Leach and Glenn Wightman

Artists: Deborah Wurrkidj (Maningrida, Northern Territory), Fiona Hall (Adelaide, South Australia), Irene Mungatopi (Pirlangimpi, Northern Territory), Judy Watson (matrilineal Waanyi, Queensland), Marita Sambono (Nauiyu, Northern Territory) and Winsome Jobling (Darwin, Northern Territory)

Photographer: Peter Eve

Printmakers: Basil Hall and Jo Diggins

Curators: Angus Cameron and Rose Cameron

Exhibition: 20 limited edition etchings and six photographs

The purpose of the trip was to explore and document the scientific, cultural and social aspects of Indigenous plant species around Daly River.

I have a love of botany, but I am beginning to think about the way the botanical world is totally inseparable to all living things, even the soil. The environment affects the way plants look and how species change from one place to another.

Fiona Hall

The journey began at the Northern Territory Herbarium where botanists Glenn Wightman and Dr Greg Leach initiated a discussion about the Western taxonomic system of researching plants. The custodians of the traditional knowledge around Nauiyu, Biddy Lindsay Yiyguun, Patricia Marrfurra and Marita Sambono expanded upon this introduction. Together they imparted scientific, localised and cultural knowledge on Country.

A temporary printmaking studio was set up at Merrepen Arts for artists to expand upon their drawings from the field and to produce their initial proofs. The limited edition print run was completed in Darwin at Basil Hall Editions.

Cultural stories, plant use and scientific knowledge were then distilled together on zinc plates in an acutely observed survey of flora and Top End environment.

Angus Cameron, Nomad Art 

A creative and productive collaboration soon developed as artists came and went from field to studio.

“Replant” took place at Daly River in April around the height of the wet season. Each day the artists spent time sauntering along bush tracks or on hands and knees in the scrub unabated by the passing storms. The rising floodwaters of the Daly were foremost in our minds as were the intrinsic and fluid links between seasons, plants, people and country.

As resident photographer my job was to observe and record. I watched the artists in the field, watching nature. The more I observed, the more I tuned into the complex surroundings with them.

Microscopic detail, recurrence of systems, the surging floodwaters and the ingenuity of nature became my preoccupation. The abundance of water conveyed a multitude of ideas, created subject matter and filtered a gentle light. The contrasting energies of procreation and decomposition were everywhere.

My images capture the confluence and spirit of an environment during a time of natural profusion and transformation.

Peter Eve

“Replant” premiered at Darwin Festival in 2006. The exhibition then resonated with audiences in art galleries and botanical gardens around the country, touring to five states and two territories. Venues included the Royal Botanical Gardens (Sydney), Olive Pink Botanical Gardens (Alice Springs) and the Botanic Gardens of South Australia (Adelaide).

Featuring 20 limited edition etchings and six photographs the success of “Replant” was not only based in the aesthetic appeal of the exhibition, but the value of the project itself. Nomad Art Collections are known for facilitating collaborative art projects that investigate links between art and science, and the audience of this tour relished the opportunity to gain new understandings of Indigenous relationships to Country and seeing botanical art portrayed in a different way.

Read more about the project and the artists

View the artwork via the online gallery

Find out more about the exhibition including installation views education kits and activities for primary and secondary