Still Life

3 June - 30 October 2022

Imagination and empirical observation unite in contemplation of life’s interconnectedness.

Exquisite drawings and models from the University of Melbourne’s Herbarium collection represent artistic and scientific traditions in which natural organisms are depicted in isolation from their environment. These teaching tools contrast with contemporary artworks by eleven artists that celebrate the complexities of nature, emphasising interdependence and shifting states of being. Focusing on symbiotic relationships and interspecies entanglements, these artworks consider the underground mycelial networks that connect forests, the giant termite mounds that provide a home for mutualistic communities, and the microorganisms that inhabit human bodies and are integral to our existence.

Many of the artworks in Still Life take as their starting point representational strategies from the natural sciences, such as botanical illustration, macro photography, specimen collection and field recordings. In the artists’ hands these methodologies move beyond the observable world into a realm of fantasy, symbolism and abstraction. Suggesting that understandings of the natural environment are constrained by the limitations of human perception, including a mistaken assumption about our centrality to the natural order, the artists in Still Life propose that sustainable co-existence requires new patterns of seeing, thinking and living.

Featuring: Mikala Dwyer, Nicholas Mangan, Angelica Mesiti, Clare Milledge, Vera Möller, James Morrison, Isadora Vaughan, Jahnne Pasco-White, Adele Wilkes, Mulkun Wirrpanda and John Wolseley.

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Wednesday – Sunday
11am – 5pm

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Image credit: Angelica Mesiti, Over Air and Underground, 2020. Installation view, Still Life, Buxton Contemporary, The University of Melbourne, 3 June – 6 November 2022. Courtesy of Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne. Photography Christian Capurro

Buxton Contemporary acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the unceded land on which we work, learn and create, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong peoples, and the wider Kulin Nations. We acknowledge their continuing care for Country and recognise that Australia’s First Peoples art and cultural practices have thrived here for millenia.