The Tellus Art Project 2022 is a collaboration under development between UNSW Art and Design, the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens Herbarium, Bundanon and Open Humanities Press. It is the result of an Australian Research Council grant and aims to re-value the plant collection of the Herbarium through the mediation of art. It addresses the affliction of plant blindness, wherein many people do not recognise or value the plant life around them, particularly in an epoch of climate change and species extinction. It considers how the Herbarium plant collection will be the focus of art.
The Tellus Art Project addresses multi-species entanglements in biopolitical times. It makes connections between plant ontologies, politics, ethics and art – as noted in grant leader Prue Gibson’s The Plant Contract – as an important trajectory of Critical Plant Studies conversations. These Plant Studies conversations attend to the independent and agented nature of plant behaviour (see forthcoming book The Mind of Plants), and the colonial complexities of “collecting” plants using Latin names and hierarchical categories. They also include the sometimes fierce debates about invasive weed versus native plants (see paper on Lantana), the thrilling eco-feminist kin-encounters between artists and plants (see work of Catriona Sandilands) and the philosophical effects of new plant science, as evidenced in the work of Michael Marder, The Philosopher’s Plant.
Gibson is the Lead Chief Investigator on The Tellus Art Project. Marie Sierra from Melbourne University is a Chief Investigator on this project and will lead the curation in consultation with Sophie O’Brien and Boe-Lin Bastian at Bundanon. Other project members are Sigi Jottkandt University of NSW and Open Humanities Press and Brett Summerell Royal Botanic Gardens.
Talks for Siteworks 2022: From a deep valley
Bundanon will present a series of talks that will focus on the affective agency of plants and the plant stories that are as rich as the biodiversity they protect. Titled The Herbarium Tales, these talks will investigate the philosophical, aesthetic and narrative relations of plants and welcomes a diversity of discussions that connect people with plants and place, to create new plant-human relationships and clearer vegetal futures.
The full program for Siteworks 2022 will be released at the end of October 2022.
Image: With thanks to House of Oz, Edinburgh Festival, AIATSIS and Samuel Watson