Art Inspired By Plants
Amber Creswell Bell
| December 1, 2014
I am constantly inspired, excited and soothed by the beauty of plants and flowers. The extent to which I actually manifest this inspiration however roughly involves the process of growing them, picking them – and then occasionally documenting this practice with the odd hastily snapped photo. It blows my mind what other human brains can conjure using this same source of inspiration. I felt the overwhelming urge to bring five of these amazing individuals – compulsively driven by their connection to plants – to the fore.
1. Diana Scherer – ‘Nurture Studies’
Diana Scherer is a German-born artist now living in Amsterdam. A graduate of Fine Art and Photography, her beautiful and diverse work has been widely published. It is, however, her Nurture Studies (2010–2012) that grabbed my attention.
Examining the very human practice of manipulating nature, the process for this collection of 32 works involved collecting vases, filling them with soil, planting a seed – and then waiting for them to grown to optimum stage. It was at this point Diana would carefully break the vessel, photographing the remaining form. An exercise in patience – with each work taking around 5 months to produce! It just seems genius to me. What I love about this collection is that all plants were sourced from her own garden, weeds and all!
2. Azuma Makoto – ‘Exbiotanica’ and ‘Leaf Man’
Azuma Makoto is an artist so prolific I don’t have the space and time to document the full body of his work. Born and raised in the countryside of Japan where nature was ubiquitous –his inseparable relationship with nature has gone on to inform and inspire his inexhaustible craft.
Elevating the unexpected beauty found in plants, he has said that he has no passion other than plants. I have selected two polar opposite examples of his art for inclusion here. The first, ‘Exobiotanica’ might just blow your mind. In July of this year Makoto in collaboration with John Powell of JP Aerospace completed a botanical space flight, sending a Japanese white pine bonsai suspended from a carbon-fiber frame, and an arrangement of orchids, hydrangeas, lilies and irises into the stratosphere.
Launched with a specially equipped balloon from Black Rock Desert in Nevada, the mission, entitled ‘Exbiotanica’, was conceptualised to emancipate plants from the command of gravity, and to see what became of them when they lost their links to life in a foreign frontier. The botanical exhibition captures and documents the takeoff, deployment and landing. Madness, right? Stunning madness.
Conversely, his project ‘Leaf Man’ is beautiful, yet slightly less grandiose and a tad more anchored on terra firma. This creative concept purportedly came to him in a dream. Same brain, same passion – such a wildly different manifestation.
3. Sonia Rentsch – ‘Harm Less’
Sonia has been profiled on The Planthunter before by Jessica Bineth. But such is the glory of Harm Less, I need to shine the spotlight here once more. I’m rather pleased to note that Sonia Rentsch is a local gal, based out of Melbourne, wearing the multi-talented hats of art director, still-life stylist and designer.
While not working exclusively with any one medium in particular across her many varied projects – her Harm Less series depicts a series of weapons made from sticks, leaves, seeds, spikes, leaves, twigs, and flowers. The simplicity of her creations is stunning, and the detailing immense. To create such works out of what is essentially plant detritus is just so bloody inspired, and perhaps sadly – short-lived.
4. Anne Ten Donkelaar – ‘Flower Constructions’
Having graduated in 2007 from the ‘Utrecht school of The Art’ (NL) with a degree in ‘3D Product Design’, Anne took her qualification in an unusual direction. More than just a ‘product’ – her Flower Constructions (2011/12) are meticulous 3D collages crafted from pressed flowers and paper cutouts. Each element is painstakingly placed on pins to create depth. They appear as fantasy herbaria, filled with dried flowers or branches, with irregular shapes and sophisticated twists.
In Anne’s words, “Imagine a big bang, a firework of flower seeds thrown into space. What would happen? New fragile flowers arise, new flower planets start evolving, planets where no one has ever been.” I love it!
Inspired by found objects in her path – a damaged butterfly, a broken twig, odd growing weeds – they are all carefully gathered and become her muse – inventing new stories and combinations of elements. Anne says, “By protecting these precious pieces under glass, I give the objects a second life and hope to inspire people to make up their own stories about them”.
5. Kerstin Hiestermann
I have been tracking the childlike whimsy of German Instagram artist Kerstin Hiestermann on Instagram for some time. With close to 200,000 followers I’m clearly not alone – with Kerstin rising to prominence in the photo sharing community for her quirky little squares that display (mainly) simple plants parts combined with her own minimalist pen-line drawings. Hiestermann’s day job is a teacher, and it was only the advent of Instagram and the potential it offered to share which actually inspired her creations. They are joyful, unassuming and rather clever.