EMMA FEBVRE-RICHARDS

BOTANICS REVISITED IV

Botanics Revisited IV are two memory compositions sourced from my time-based work Botanics Revisited III. These are the culmination of a two-year research enquiry entitled ‘Patterned ground’ that has produced numerous works based on my attachment to the New Zealand forest, and a desire to understand how this ‘site’ has become integral to my identity and sense of well-being. I have deployed expanded drawing to shift from the traditional observational approach to plant forms of the ‘botanical study’ genre, to a more participative cerebral process of response to the environment. More specifically I aim to explore how unconscious individual contextual experiences and their associations direct the way we interact with, perceive and remember the world.

The research arose from the mundane task of weeding in my native garden at home. Immersion in this simple act allowed close observation of the unique spacing and forms that the plants held, each in a seemingly mathematical pattern with the same base but different intervals – a perceivable structure differentiated according to the plants’ genus, and their individual environmental conditions. I found myself reflecting on a previous paper I had authored, ‘The humanity of drawing; an artists journey’, which explored how drawing as a ‘spontaneous act’ was problematic given the difficulty of freeing ourselves from the unconscious schemas, boundaries and constraints developed from birth. These impose unrecognized ‘rules’ (Pillemer and White 1989; Usher and Neisser 1993) that are formed by our environments, personal histories, and other cultural and behavioural agencies.

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