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Voyages Botanical - Christine Johnson

Year: 2015, 13.8 mins
Code: ML-Voyages

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This film is a snapshot of the work of Christine Johnson,a unique visual artist who shares her passion for plants and fowers with journalist / film maker Marienne Latham.

Growing up next to a large park, Christine Johnson had an early fascination with plants and flowers. There were roses, forget- me-nots and delphiniums and as she wandered around the flowers beds and winding paths what Christine saw was different to others. She was short sighted, so everything seemed rather blurry, until she looked at them close up. Later as an artist this was what she loved to paint. Huge canvases full of beautiful flowers that showed minute detail, but were slightly out of focus on the edges.

In the past few years, moving to outer Melbourne, on the edge of the bush, she developed a fondness for Australian native flora. While researching the names of the flowers, she discovered how many early explorers of the Great Southern land, Cook, Dampier and Flinders had becomme fascinated with the strange flowers and plants they found. Botanists such as Sydney Parkinson, who came to Australian with Captain Cook, took the flowers on voyages back to Europe. One lover of Australian flora was Empress Josephine and plants such as the Golden Everlasting can still be seen in many public gardens in France.

Wanting to include the history of these early voyages, with the portrayal of the plants, Christine found that printmaking served this purpose better than her usual large canvases. Her delicate prints are made on plates using the sun to etch the details then printed at the Baldessin Press in the bush just north of Melbourne. Exhibited at the Victorian State Library, these prints are a wonderful record of the early voyages of discovery to Australia, the indigenous flora and an example of fine, delicate and imaginative printmaking.

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