The Evolving Garden, 2018

The Evolving Garden, 2018

7 March – 1 April 2018

Despard Gallery

“The Evolving Garden celebrates the highlights, discoveries and interrogations of four years research into the agency of garden imagery. Within that process I have been privileged to experience, observe and listen to many gardens ranging from Kew Gardens in the UK, to Tasmania’s own beautiful Botanical Gardens in Hobart. I have sat quietly beside the hidden quarry pond in Government house, had high tea on the well-manicured lawns of a Nairobi tea planation and enjoyed the rambling, unexpected surprises of my own quirky garden, but nothing draws me deeper into the heart of the garden than the screaming silence of the ancient Pandani groves at Mt Field. As diverse as all these spaces are, the thing that strikes me most is the threshold between form and wildness, which creates a primal urge to break free from containment whilst acknowledging its support. Universal to all of these gardens is an oscillation that sets up a perpetual state of flux, where one moment the garden is controlled and serene and the next it is a wilderness straining to break out, it is this ‘in-between’ space I am trying to capture with paint.


My aim is to shift the view of the garden from the vista to the experiential and immersive in order to offer an alternative reading of garden imagery. Thus, the deliberate elimination of the narrative elements that appeared in the conservatory works – such as garden borders and pot holders – to the more abstract works which offer familiarity, via the materiality and application of the paint but not through motif.


The particular consistencies of the paint invite a visceral sense of engagement through viscosity.  That is, the manner in which the substance has congealed in some passages suggests a suspension of time and weathered endurance.  Conversely, in other passages where there are quick gestural marks the paint is slippery, moist, and pulsating.  This instinctual lexicon of painterly gesture aims not only to register with our eyes, but also to provoke an evocation of our own garden experience. I am particularly excited about the 3D work done in collaboration Sara Lindsay.  This piece offers a disruption, a punctuated equilibrium in the evolving garden. “ Penny Burnett, March 2018