Native plant project
Native Plant Project have just uploaded a comprehensive Q+A with me on their website. As well as a great online portal to order Australian plants delivered to your door, they actively promote Australian designers, architects, landscapers and creatives engaged in their own native plant projects.
Link to Q+A:
Q+A interview clone below:
Garth Henderson’s exquisitely hyperreal work is pushing the boundaries of Australian botanical art. Digitally sculpted by the hand and eye to form intricately detailed studies, he explores the complex geometric beauty of iconic natives like no other artist before him. We sit down with Garth to learn more about his own extraordinary native plant project and a particular fascination with Banksia…
NPP: Your botanic artworks are mesmerising. How did you arrive at this style of work?
GH: I’m primarily interested in organic geometry, in particular the unique and evolving mathematical permutations of Australian flora. I have created these works as a visual investigation of their complex form: plant species as organic architecture.
Produced as a series of large format limited edition archival prints on museum paper, each work arrests the viewer by challenging perceptions with the subtly hyperreal interpretations of the familiar.
My creative tools utilise 3D modelling and sculpting software, and virtual studio photography. It’s an approach rooted in deep experience as a visual artist and horticulturist, honed by a Bachelor of Fine Art from Curtin University, Perth WA, with majors in photography and printmaking, with further specialisation in 3D modelling and digital media from RMIT, Melbourne, Victoria.
“I appreciate my visual style is informed by a combination of my background in photography and horticulture, and a childhood in an extraordinarily botanically rich corner of Western Australia…”
NPP: Botanic art is painstakingly observed. How do you go about creating such striking 3D artworks?
GH: I work direct from a dried plant specimen in the studio, or reference a series of photographs I have taken in the landscape. Working in a virtual environment allows me to break down my observations, to dilute the essence of the structure, and rebuild it as a series of shapes and modules. The ability to output the work as a photographically ‘correct’ interpretation of reality challenges the viewer with a streamlined version of what they believe themselves to recognise.
My philosophy is to visually dispense with the scientific and cultural ‘restrictions’ of traditional botanical studies, and approach the subject matter with a focus on form and geometry. My initial works with Banksias were general references, based on memory and familiarity and a few particular visual indicators of how we recognise the Genus. What I think has evolved in this process is a more concentrated approach to allude to familiar aspects of specific species.
“My experience of banksias as a child was my introduction to the wonder of the natural Australian environment. My experience of them as an adult is in an almost meditative state of observation of organic mathematical forms…”
NPP: Banksias seem to be a particular focus, can you explain why?
GH: As a child growing up in the south-west corner of Western Australia, there was much time spent outside, exploring the scrubby native bushland around our house. And Banksias, whether in bloom or later as fruiting cones, are inherently engaging to a wandering mind (think May Gibbs’ particular take on the subject matter).
Plus the flowers suddenly appear out of this muted, dull grey green forest in such a spectacular display of form and colour. And 90% of Banskia species are endemic to this region also, so it’s a personal history of experiencing them from a young age.
And coming back to them in a creative discipline, having had the luxury of a formal education in the Visual Arts and Horticulture, and also an immersive vocational history. My experience of them as a child was my introduction to the wonder of the natural Australian environment. My experience of them as an adult is in an almost meditative state of observation of organic mathematical forms. They are the perfect example of Form and Function.
NPP: What do you most love about Australian native plants?
GH: Their tenacity. To be able to not only survive, but thrive in such an old old landscape.
But mostly, their repetitive and evolving floral structures. There’s a scale and economy of form relative to the ability to function and prosper in a harsh environment. So many of the most intricate flowers demand you to be intimately close in order to truly appreciate their structures. I think that’s why the Proteaceae family resonates so strongly as subject matter: Banksia, Grevillea, Hakea etc… They are tough plants. And from a traditional European perspective of nature as abundant and immersive, these plants from drier regions initially fail to offer that immediate sense of comfort we expect from the natural environment.
It is only on closer inspection of the buds, flowers and seedpods of these plants, that the wonder and intricacy of form elevates them to a whole new level of understanding and appreciation.
NPP: Where do you get your design inspiration from?
GH: I appreciate that my visual style is informed by a combination of my background in photography and horticulture, and a childhood in an extraordinarily botanically rich corner of Western Australia.
But to put the fascination with geometry in context, one of the first books I remember being fascinated with was a copy of Ernst Haekel’s ‘Kunstformen der Natur, that I had as a child. I thought his extraordinary observations and illustrations of the simple/complex permutations of organic geometry in the natural world were truly remarkable.
As was the photography of Karl Blossfeldt, particularly the close up of plant structures in ‘Urformen der Kunst’. His philosophy was that ‘the plant must be valued as a totally artistic and architectural structure‘ (1: Blossfeldt, Karl, Urformen Der Kunst: Photographische Pflanzenbilder, Verlag Ernst Wasmuth A.G. Berlin, 1929 ). His observations informed my view of plants as design and form.
NPP: What are your favourite native plants to grow or ones you particularly enjoy in your garden?
GH: I am lucky to be involved in the stewardship of a magnificent Phillip Johnson billabong garden on a private estate in country Victoria.
His ideology is a celebration of a particular aspect of the essential Australian environment, and is reflected in the design and sustainability of the garden.
As for the plants, I can’t believe how tough Correas are: minus 8 degrees, waterlogged clay in Winter, porcelain hard clay in Summer, and they are thriving. Also, Myoporum: hasn’t missed a beat over the three years I have been interacting with this garden. Brachyscombe multifida, dies off a bit in the frost, but comes back enthusiastically, as does the Chrysocephalum. Eucalyptus pulverulenta severely wind pruned, but starting to mature into their compact spreading forms, and so intricate when they start to bud up between the unique foliage. And because of the water element, there is some runaway Marsilea (Nardoo). Such a simple geometry to its light green foliage, and it gets a shimmering silver sheen when submerged in the pond.
NPP: Are there any public or private gardens featuring native plants you like to visit for inspiration?
GH: My favourite is King’s Park Botanical Garden in Perth, Western Australia.
When I lived in Perth I’d regularly stop at Kings Park on the way to work for a walk around the mainly natural bush site and I never miss an opportunity to visit this garden every time I visit the city. Almost half of Australia’s 25,000 plant species are represented there. It is such an overwhelming experience to visit the gardens in Spring, when most plants are starting to flower. They also have an exhaustive living collection of Banksias!
Horse Island in Bodalla. I was fortunate to visit the site with Landscape Architect, Jela Ivankovic-Waters, for a private tour early last year. Owner Christina Kennedy has informed her understanding and appreciation of Australian plants over the last 25 or so years, and created a truly unique Australian garden, balancing the formal and informal garden spaces on a such a grand and dramatic site. The sheer scale of the clipped ‘Agonis flexuosa’ on the main drive indicate what a new way of expressing traditional garden styles can achieve.
And finally, Banksia Gardens in Mt Barker, is still on the ‘to do’ list, where they have the world’s only complete collection of Banksias.
For more on Garth Henderson’s work and upcoming exhibitions visit:
St Kevin’s College Art Show is over for this year. A great diversity of works on show there, with an exceptionally high standard of presentation and organisation.
So time to get back into some new works, following up from a few conversations recently about why I don’t appear to works so much with colour.
Generally, I think the addition of colour significantly changes how you perceive the work.
Whereas the black and white works rely on the structural geometry to communicate an understanding of an almost hyperreal form, the colour variations are somewhat more instantly identifiable with the real and familiar.
Above is an image of a Banksia menziesii that was modelled in black and white for my current series of work, currently exhibited at Falkner Gallery in Castlemaine.
This version is an exercise in applying colours to the different components of the model, and giving it that vibrancy of tonal gradients that occur as the flowers open and mature.
St Kevin’s College Art Show 2019
3 works (above) will be on display at the upcoming St Kevin’s Art Show.
Friday, 24 May, 2019
KC Smith Hall
St Kevin's College, Moonga Rd, Toorak
THE OTHER ART FAIR SYDNEY 2019
Thurs 14th March - Sun 17th March
Australian Technology Park
Locomotive St, Eveleigh NSW 2015
Link to exhibiting Artists:
Autumn Edition 2019
Invites for Falkner Gallery SHow
Just arrived in the post today :)
I will be at the the gallery on Saturday, 18th May, between 2-4pm.
Hope to see you there.
SaatchiArt The Other Art Fair Sydney, 2019
SaatchiArt The Other Art Fair Sydney 2019
14th - 17th March, 2019
Australian Technology Park, Locomotive Street, Everleigh.
Still running on the momentum from The Other Art Fair in Melbourne last year, after some great introductions and feedback from that event.
There will be a framed copy of 'constructive_botanics/banksia_prionotes' in the show. Half the Edition already sold, but hoping to bring it to a new audience. Plus some unframed Edition numbers… Might prove challenging to transport as it's the largest of my print series so far, and the van will be packed to the roof :)
And a road trip from Melbourne to Sydney, with Artist Adrian Harley, who is also in the show.
Hope you can can come along…
FALkNER Gallery, CASTLEmAINE, May 2019
Always motivating to work towards a deadline.
Shortly after the Saatchiart The Other Art Fair Sydney 2019 in March, there will be an exhibition of new works at Falkner Gallery in Castlemaine
May 16th to July 6th, 2019.
35 Templeton St, Castlemaine VIC 3450
Turner galleries / art angels gala evening
Thank you @turnergalleries , for purchasing this work from The Fremantle Print Award 2018, for your Art Angels Project, and for a great evening at the gallery last night. Especially enjoyed Joshua Webbs ‘Phantasm2’ (@jlwstudio) 3D sculpture on the wall next to my print…
The Turner Galleries Art Angels Ltd are patrons of an innovative Artist in Residence programme that invites three Australian artists to Perth each year and supports local artists and by purchasing their works. The programme has been running since 2001.
The annual Art Angels membership Fee $1,200 including GST, allocates 60% of the money towards a Residency fund to assist three interstate artists during their residency and exhibition in Perth.
The remaining 40% is paid into an Art Acquisition account, the Gallery Director and Gallery Manager use the funds to purchase artworks from Perth’s most outstanding emerging, mid and late career artists. These artworks are then entered into an annual art draw for the Art Angel Members at our end of year function.
For more information on Art Angels, CLICK HERE
ART/EDIT magazine - Flora and fauna special
A double page feature in the new issue of Art/Edit magazine in Newsagents as of today.
“The architectural background of Garth Henderson – who moved to Melbourne to study 3D modelling before embarking on his subsequent vocations as horticulturalist and artist – is clear upon viewing his meticulous, geometric renditions of Australian flora. In his works, beauty is not just found in colour and form; it is also found in the complex mathematical constructs and organic architecture of our native plants.
At the beginning of each work, Garth will take a physical specimen of the plant he’s working on and literally deconstruct it, a process that allows him to start building its individual components using a virtual sculpting program. These virtual models are then subjects to the same lighting physics that exist within a photographic studio. The final images are then presented as limited edition archival prints on museum paper.”
Art/Edit Magazine - The Holiday Issue - Oct/Nov/Dec 2018
opening night, Fremantle Print Award, 2018
“Garth Henderson's contructive_botanics/banksia_grandis 02, 2017 takes a technological leap from the traditions of botanical art with a digital rendering that uses 3D computer modelling to mimic the naturally occuring structure of the Banksia grandis. The resulting image alludes to a post-natural digital future where organic structures are replicated by algorithms.” - Judges Commentary FACPrintAward 2018 Catalogue
“With a background in horticulture, Garth Henderson has an intimate knowledge of the structure and life cycles of Australia's native flora. In the forms and physiology of plants, Henderson traces the patterns, geometry and evolving mathematical permutations that naturally appear as a flower or plant grows. Henderson's pioneering use of 3D virtual modelling software as a creative space is part of an ongoing study into natural forms” - FACPrintAward 2018
SaatchiArt The Other Art Fair Melbourne 2018
The Facility, 2 Chelmsford Street, Flemington
Stenocarpus (firewheel tree)
Have taken a small detour across the Proteacea family for this project, mainly because it was in flower at the time I started the 3D model. Having the luxury of a physical specimen to work from encourages a greater understanding of the stages of the flower formation and its evolving forms. It's also invaluable in working out the mechanics of the structure, for example, simply how the stalk attaches to the stem. Although I usually work with the calm subtleties of greyscale, this flower has encouraged me to explore it's arresting colour with some procedural colour gradients. The foliage also responds well to a colour treatment, as it has that harsh, dull, waxy appearance found on a lot of indigenous Australian plants. Almost plastic in it's specularity. Which left me with 2 variations of the final image: a coloured version with real world surface references, and a greyscale version with a metallic pewtered sheen to the foliage.
SaatchiArt The Other Art Fair Melbourne
4 weeks to go till the SaatchiArt The Other Art Fair Melbourne. There was a meet and greet this week with the organisers and other participating Artists, and another view of the venue, which is such a perfect site.
Opens Thursday August 2nd, to Sunday Aug 5th, though you can come along for free on the Friday - Sunday if you request a ticket at melbourne.theotherartfair.com/comp and use the code: ARTGarth .
Had some very encouraging responses to my work at the 2017 Fremantle Print Award last year, so am very excited for another work to be shortlisted for this years exhibition: 'constructive_botanics/banksia_grandis_02'.
2018 Fremantle Print Award
Fremantle Arts Centre
1 Finnerty St, Fremantle , Western Australia 6160
opening night September 13th @ 6.30pm
red stocking at red gallery
annual xmas group show
23 November – 10 December
Heide Museum of Modern Art
Big book launch at Heide Museum of Modern Art today. Had the opportunity to hang a couple of my banksia works in keeping with the theme of new directions in using Australian plants in design and art. Thanks Jela and Kate...
The focal flower installation for the launch was incredible. And a hugely successful event, given the turnout and responses to the book. Congratulations again to Jela and Kate on a magnificent book, and a timely conversation about the magnificent possibilities of Australian flora.
The flora of Western Australia, in late Winter bloom, are spectacular, and it's just the start of the Wildflower season. The shots below were taken around Chittering Shire, about an hours drive north of Perth, and include Grevillea, Banksia, Conostylis, Eucalyptus and Hakea.
... though you wouldn't know it if it wasn't flowering, as the foliage and growth habit are almost indistinguishable from each other.
Kingia australis in flower, not even closely related to Xanthorrhoea. Spotted a couple of specimens on the side of the road and did a quick u-turn for a closer inspection and some photographs.
Australian flora get more intriguing the closer you look
Taking some reference shots today of the bushy yate flower.
Awkward, clumsy looking buds, the operculum fall away to reveal to most iridescent fine green filaments. The geometry is astounding. Can't wait to build one of these.
Quick weekend visit to the botanic gardens in Cranbourne. Banksias flowering all over the place. As much as I appreciate the convenience of the iPhone camera, there's nothing like the commitment of hauling a heavy SLR, spare lenses and a tripod around. Spectacular early morning light and a sterling effort from the 85mm F1.2.
A visionary garden that promotes the uniqueness of the Australian flora and landscape.
Confirmation this week that one of new coloured banksia prints has been accepted into the 2017 Fremantle Print Awards.