Plant Notes: A Guildhouse Collections Project

September 16, 2021

South Australian artists Louise Flaherty and Laura Wills recently launched Plant Notes, an exhibition investigating the personal and environmental effects of losing vulnerable native flora through their research as part of The Guildhouse Collections Project, at the South Australian Seed Conservation Centre and Adelaide Botanic Gardens.

Guildhouse, a South Australian arts organisation, received funding from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund for The Collections Project—a collaboration between the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium of South Australia to support selected artists to research and develop new work based on historical, scientific and living collections.

In the exhibition catalogue, Dr Sera Waters states poetically: “It could be said they are learning to speak in seeds.” The artists have listened to First Nations voices about the care practices for native plants, as well as understood the particular ecological roles that seeds require to flourish.


A photo of South Australian artists Laura Flaherty and Laura Will standing side by side.

South Australian artists Louise Flaherty and Laura Wills. Photo by Sia Duff.

Drawing attention to the startling data that reveals currently 1 in 4 native plant species are threatened, with one thousand species struggling to survive, Louise Flaherty and Laura Wills highlight eight plants to champion as part of this collaboration, that becomes even more important in the aftermath of the 2020 Australian bushfires:

  • Large Cress
  • Corunna Daisy
  • Woods Well Spyridium
  • Clover Glycine
  • Yundi Guinea-flower
  • Fire Goosefoot
  • Ladies Tresses
  • Spiked Sour-bush

“The Collections Project enabled us to not only meet the SA Seed Conservation Centre team, but interview them, join them on field trips and spend time absorbing their work to inform the artworks we created. It was a great insight into the world of native plants, their conservation status and how knowing them closer is the way to strengthen our relationship with them and their survival.”Laura Wills

“Being able to meet and talk and share with the staff and volunteers has been inspirational. It confirms for me why I make the work that I so and drives me to continue to create this work. The Collections Project has been like planting a seed for future work of mine, this experience will continue to inspire the work that I make for many years to come.” – Louise Flaherty

Plant Notes is accompanied by an art tour of Adelaide Botanic Gardens and an audio artwork composed by Belinda Gehlert and performed by Naomi Keyte.

This exhibition is on at the Santos Museum of Economic Botany in Adelaide from 15 August – 31 October 2021.

See links for more information on Artist Workshops and The Collections Project Call Out.

 About the Collections Project

The Guildhouse Collections Project is a collaborative project between Guildhouse, the Botanic Gardens of South Australia (BGSA) and the Flinders University Museum of Art (FUMA), providing selected artists the opportunity to research and work with the Museum’s collections, curators and staff to create and develop new work for exhibition.

Artists are provided special access to BGSA and FUMA’s collection, supported by curators in the research and development of new work and exposed to vast audiences through the presentation of this work.

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