Posted by & filed under Exhibitions.

When you hear the phrase ‘garden of earthly delights’, you might think of something expansive and overgrown, colourful and breathing with life. Perhaps a sort of mixture between a Beatrix Potter landscape of rolling hills with some kind of lush and exotic idea of Eden.

Kate Dunn’s exhibition is full of intricate porcelain sculptures of plants, but her dainty portrayal of species that should be green and bursting with colour are instead white and sterile. Like the bleached corpse of a dead piece of coral when you know it should be vibrant and alive, they are beautiful but a little disturbing in their unnaturalness.

Metalab, the Surry Hills space hosting the exhibition describes it as: ‘influenced by 
the 19th century post Darwin penchant for collecting, drawing 
and displaying the natural world. Like pinning down butterflies 
or beetles, there is a macabre quality to our desire to touch 
and consume the fragile.’

This exhibition is the culmination of a project between Dunn, an artist and academic at the University of Sydney, and Dr Caroline Lehmann, a Research
 Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences at Macquarie
 University. It explores research into the decimation of the Cumberland Plain Woodlands, the basin Sydney has encroached on and destroyed over the years through a combination of climate change and urbanization. The sculptures are like pressed flowers in the pages of a book; lovely, yet shadows of the real thing that may soon be lost.

Sep 6-29, Metalab, 10B Fitzroy Pl, Surry Hills, free, 8354 1398

  • Judith Hedgpeth

    I enjoyed reading your entry under “Google Alerts – Beatrix Potter”. As you will undoubtedly have other readers who are interested in Beatrix, I thought add this comment about the International Society (originating in the UK) dedicated to Beatrix and all aspects of her works and life. Anyone can join and can read about it on their website: