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Woodland Plains explores Australia's
endangered native grassland communities.
The exhibition features a collection of works in the delicate and multi-layered medium of watercolour on paper. I have utilised the genre of scientific illustration as developed by early naturalists to document this ‘untouched land’, inviting a critique of our experience of the Australian landscape so as to feel the tension between consumer-collector, versus participant-observer.
The scientific elements in some pieces deliberately displace the subject from environment, and rather than immersing in the experience and emotion of place, highlight the beauty of the specific. Conversely, other elements of the exhibition draw the viewer into the visceral experience of the land, to feel a sense of awe for it's sweeping beauty.
Designated as “Box-Gum Woodland”, the subject of the exhibit is officially recognised as an Endangered Ecological Community (EEC), which once covered vast swathes of eastern Australia. The first Europeans were deeply impressed by the “pastures” they found, the endemic grasses which densely carpeted the land, which were also highly valued by the Indigenous cultivators. The grasses, though being so well adapted, have given way to introduced species more productive for heavy grazing, and on this rich farming land only pockets of Box-Gum Woodland fragments remain.
Complementing my work will be a collection of sculptural pieces by fibre artists Lissa De Sailles and Peta-Joy Williams. Robin Wall Kimmerer says that ‘science polishes the gift of seeing, Indigenous traditions work with gifts of listening and language.'
It is my hope that the offerings of Woodland Plains within the realm of scientific - the seeing, as well as the traditional - the tactile, functional and emotional, might together invite us to a multifaceted way of questioning and learning, to offer a rich and deep experience of this ancient habitat and consider it's value within contemporary Australian life and culture.
Nicole Berlach explores the natural world through science and watercolour.
She is a trained Natural History illustration Artist based on the Central Coast of NSW.
Nicole's approach sees traditional techniques and medium applied in a fresh way that resonates with the art enthusiast and scientist alike,
With the technical skill of the historical greats, paired with contemporary vision and inspiration - Nicole has an extensive portfolio of beautiful work including children's picture book illustration, scientific plates, field guides, interpretive signage, and private commissioned artworks.
Nicole has created a range of high quality prints, greeting cards and linen featuring her scientific work.
These are available for viewing and purchase online, or you can find them in person at The Olive Tree Market in Newcastle on the first
Saturday of each month; Sydney and Melbourne Finders Keepers events; as well as select boutiques and galleries Australia wide.