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Art + Design Store – Friday Feature – Cinchona

June 17, 2011

Thanks for your interest in the new Art + Design Store – Friday Feature column, where I look more closely at one of the artworks in my Art + Design Store

Last week we looked at the giclée print, Cabbage Palm, today it’s the limited edition letterpress print Cinchona, which featured in my recent solo exhibition: Collected Patterns: The botany of Walter Hill. Part of a series of six letterpress prints, printed on Magnani Incisioni 100% Cotton Rag Paper using rubber-based inks, this black on white work was inspired by the dedicated research of Walter Hill, the Brisbane Botanic Gardens’ first and most significant curator (1855-1881).

Native to South America, the Cinchona shrub or tree grows to between 5-15 metres, with the bark containing the anti-malarial compound, quinine. The bark is stripped from the tree, dried and powdered for medicinal use. The plants were transported to other tropical regions in the nineteenth century for cultivation, including Australia.

Walter Hill was passionate about assisting with the cure of Malaria throughout Queensland and he felt his biggest failure was his inability to successfully cultivate the Cinchona plant. In Brisbane in the 1860s, malaria caused more deaths than anything else. In his 1866 Annual Report on the Botanic Gardens he writes, “No luck cultivating the Cinchona tree yet, but hope to this year.” He never was successful and carried this burden with him throughout his career.

This design was a joy to work with in terms of its historical meaning in relation to Brisbane and also the bold and striking elements of the flowers and linear patternation on the leaves. Rather than simply symmetrically mirroring the elements within the design, I ‘wrapped’ components to create movement and dimension.

I hope you enjoyed this history as much as I did researching it and developing the artwork. The prints are part of an edition of 10 and 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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