Biennale's Perfect Botanical Fit
OK, so nothing's perfect, but the three artists represented in the Royal Botanic Gardens as part of this year's 17th Biennale of Sydney know where they are. There has a been a tendency in the past for Biennale works to sit awkwardly in the Gardens.
This year, though, each of the works clearly has something to do with the location and what were are on about here in the Botanic Gardens. That said, they are still provocative, curious and entertaining, and some visitors will probably dislike one or other of them. That's good and that's art.
Janet Lawrence has created WAITING - A Medicinal Garden for Ailing Plants. The top picture is of the artist herself, resplendent in lab coat, in the medicial garden yesterday. Janet Lawrence described the piece as a sickbay for fragile plants, and wants it to remind us (in a playful way) of the threats to nature and the urgency to act. Like the others, it fits nicely within the specific botanic garden theme of Threatened and Threatening Nature. Look for the white tent just down from the Morshead Gate, opposite the State Library.
Fiona Hall uses beehives decked out in military camouflage to reflect on the "shipping in of people during early colonial times". There is even a 'native-bee' hive amongst them, with some native bees. Fiona also wants us to think about the traffic of people and plants around the world by adding a roof to some of the hives reflecting different countries and cultures. And take note of the sandbags from various trading partners. The Barbarians at the Gate can be found near the Conservatorium Gate.
The final piece is by Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa, and called The unbearable lightness of being. It's a giant red lotus flower in the main pond, and it opens and closes! All of Choi's works "honour the beauty of nature, and the need for imagination when living in urban cultures with a diminishing natural aesthetic".
Two of the artists already have pieces in the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain - Fiona Hall's Mrs Macquarie's Folly above the Australian Rockery and Janet Lawrence's Veil of Trees in the middle of the road loop on the way to Mrs Macquaries Point.
If you need help finding the scuptures here is a snap of the Biennale Guide map. Better still, check out the Biennale website and download your own free copy of the Guide.