2011. Collected Patterns: The botany of Walter Hill
My solo exhibition, Collected Patterns: The botany of Walter Hill explores plants cultivated in the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens during Walter Hill’s curatorship, through a series of paper and textile-based works.
Walter Hill was the first curator of the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens presiding from 1855-1881. In 1859, he was appointed Colonial Botanist and contributed extensively to the development of botany, agriculture, horticulture and forest conservation during the founding years of the colony.
Hill maintained regular communications with botanical institutions worldwide and endorsed Queensland as a desirable place to live, work and invest, and as a recognized centre of botanical and horticultural interest. His promotion of agricultural enterprises such as sugar cane, tropical fruits and vineyards are most notable.
The selection of plants explored in this body of work are by no means necessarily Hill’s favourite or the ones for which he is most renowned, but have been chosen for their form, their potential for patternmaking and their artistic merits in terms of botanical studies.
Patternmaking is used in the letterpress and digital prints, and embroidered textile works to create a new visual language based on these plants. The letterpress prints were created at Myrtle Street Studio using a Heidelberg ‘Windmill’ Letterpress – a style of press that was used during Walter Hill’s time – and ultimately defined the highly graphic, precise quality of the works.
The artworks focus on pattern, form and precise detail and for this reason, the distracting element of colour was eliminated. Walter Hill was a fastidious professional who recorded his work in painstaking detail through annual reports and collection documents. Researching these records was invaluable in determining the overall visual aesthetic for the exhibition. Hours of research and meticulous choices in medium, materials, technical expertise and designs have sought a timeless, refined aesthetic in the artwork that is reflective of Walter Hill’s dedication.
Exhibition Title: Collected Patterns: The botany of Walter Hill
Location: Myrtle Street Studio, Brisbane
Photography: Troy Hansen