At Geelong Gallery from now until June 6 you can take in Understorey, a joint exhibition by Melbourne artists Amanda Johnson (also known as the poet and novelist A. Frances Johnson) and Michele Burder. The artists have explored botanical gardens in Victoria to bring together these works, investigating 'a range of historical, personal and metaphorical 'under stories'' as they go:
Johnson’s illusionistic ‘paper documents’ on canvas are replete with stains, watermarks and foxing mould copied from deteriorated botanical documentations. Her painterly parodies of ‘first contact’ drawings and nineteenth-century garden designs suggest the melancholy possibility of last contact, while luridly modified Victorian garden plans (after William Guilfoyle and others) are a futuristic revisiting of the botanical archive.
Burder’s paintings signify how perceptions of gardens and landscape painting can change, or be ‘seeded’ as memory. Her pictures suggest that we can never be sure of the origin of the garden; that gardens may reside in memory or myth as well as in the experience of the boundaried public garden that many people know and love.
The catalogue accompanying this exhibition features an essay by garden historian Paul Fox. There will be a floor talk by the artists at the gallery on May 19th, if you live in the area and would like to hear more about the works.