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Art + Design Store – Friday Feature – Bunya Bunya

September 2, 2011

In today’s Art + Design Store – Friday Feature column, where I give you all a closer look at one of the artworks in my Art + Design Store, we discover the limited edition postcard-sized letterpress prints Bunya Bunya, which featured in my recent solo exhibition: Collected Patterns: The botany of Walter Hill. This dedicated series of six little letterpress prints is printed on Magnani Incisioni 100% Cotton Rag Paper using rubber-based inks, and was inspired by the meticulous research of Walter Hill, the Brisbane Botanic Gardens’ first and most significant curator (1855-1881).

We’ve taken a good look at the six giclée prints and the six letterpress prints, so we are nearing the end of this mini-exploration into this body of work. Now it’s time to look at the Bunya Bunya or Araucaria bidwillii, which I loved so much, I decided to create not just one design, but a series of six small works around this much loved plant of Walter Hill’s. It is often called Bunya Pine but this is inaccurate as it is not a pine. Native to Queensland it occurred in abundance at the time of white settlement, to the extent that a Bunya Bunya Reserve was declared in 1840 to protect its habitat. I didn’t know it is a sacred tree for the Aboriginal people and groves were often under particular tribal/family ownership.

The Bunya Bunya was one of Hill’s favourite trees and he planted an Avenue of them in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. In his 1878 Annual Report on the Brisbane Botanic Gardens he wrote, “The walks on either side of the Bunya Bunya is the most favourite promenade of the public, and the noble line of these splendid trees justly excites general admiration.” You can just imagine what it was like at that time…

I found the full form of the tree challenging to work with to create a pattern, so I chose to use a single element – the female cone. I feel this series of six postcard-sized prints are quite playful, giving the impression of balloons or Xmas ornaments.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about the work, as I had a ball researching and developing it! The prints are part of a limited edition of 20, but there are still some available in the Store.

Want more Queensland history, keep following on Fridays for the next artwork featured in the Art + Design Store!

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