on how to display botanical reality

Harold Park

Oxalis, living in enclosed environment, a terrarium.
This growing plant is part of an exhibition at the MCA, opening this Friday, In The Balance, a show about art and environment.
You have made a terrarium before, and this latest ones (5 of them) have been constructed by the expert hands of Ian and Matt, two of the gallery assistant, so all credit goes to them, as yours involvement only went as far as collecting the soil from 5 different locations in metropolitan Sydney.

The ‘sample grounds’ have been selected using some basic guidelines, one is that they had to have some sort of ‘wild’ corner, as in an area where the ever-reaching keen gardener did not made sure no other plant but the selected ones would sprout. Another is the aim of representing a variety of micro-climates (seafront, urban park, abandoned areas, never-been-built-areas and sub-urban environmental reality ). And lastly, an attempt at championing different social demographics as well, in terms of users and managers.
As one of the narratives to discover through this ‘botanical-reality-check-boxes’ is the various human-nature relationships, it would be quite difficult to read the individual terrariums without acknowledging the source.
Each terrarium has been planted with dirt from the site alone, and after the initial watering to start-up the germination, nothing else is added, making it a self-contained and self-sufficient unit.

They are all quite different, as expected, some growing more than others (due to the richness of the soil) and each sporting his own set of plants. Some plants are in all of them (like oxalis) while others are a peculiarity of a particular soil sample.

More should be written and analyzed about this terrariums, but in the meantime you busy yourself with the facebook campaign attached to it, and the 5 tours of the locations, see here for details, where you will take people to see where the dirt comes from and what naturally grows out of the area.

Harold Park

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