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PENELOPE AITKEN

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Dwelling on the ways that Australians might celebrate the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook's contact with Terra Australis Incognita next year, I'm deep into some work about natives and exotics. Specifically, the work comes from my ponderings about Linnaeus’ protégé Daniel Solander who, with Joseph Banks and Sydney Parkinson, gathered and drew thousands of plants native to Australia and New Zealand between 1768 and 1770, and their attempts to fit these into their new European botanical schemas.

   
   
Penelope Aitken, Polypetalous pentamerous, 2019, oil, wax and plant ink on board and metal, approx 130 x 150 cm
Finalist Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize, 2019
     
   

   


Kunzea sp flowers feature in this work.
 
Kunzea is also one of the many known "tea" trees, called such because, as legend has it, Captain Cook's sailors attempted to use them as a tea substitutes during their first voyage to Australia in 1770.  I use tea tree flowers as a subject in this work for these symbolic layered stories of mistaken identity and wishful misappropriation of Antipodean plants, then all that followed from those first erroneous encounters. 
 

In other works, layers of leptospermum, kunzea, photinia, almond and plum and five petaled blossoms jostle for precedence on a solemn walnut backgrounds.

     
   

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