Novae Hollandiae

Novae Hollandiae Plantarum Specimen

Liam James

I like the idea of native flora being a space to find metaphors for statements of nationhood. I thought about juvenile foliage, and how it could be used as an analogy for the shortness of the colonial nation Australia. I drifted into thinking about native trees and how the juvenile and adult leaves co-exist; I thought about how old our indigenous culture is. Just like our trees, our nation is made of two; one old and one young.

I feel a lot of sadness, and often guilt, about Australia. My work usually becomes aggressively disengaged. I have been trying to think about redemption lately, and what that means. I think this may be as close as I can get, and it is quite far away. But maybe there is space and silence in these muted tones that allows reflection; on our past and our trajectory, on our landscapes and our belonging to them.

I think there is something important about the pictures being drawn by a Frenchman rather than the English. It is said that the French drew our first people with much more tenderness and humanity than the English. I wonder if the same could be said of our flora.