a forthcoming exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat
January 31 to March 15, 2015
Botanical art and natural history illustration will take pride of place in Vignettes, a forthcoming exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, with works by Amanda Ahmed, Sandra Severgnini, Mali Moir and John Pastoriza Piñol, 
The artists have drawn on their interest and skill in recording natural history to create new work that reflects human frailties and transient concerns.
Gordon Morrison Director of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, who is curating the exhibition, said that Vignettes continues the growing identification of the Gallery with botanical art and natural history.
“Australia has one of the most vibrant traditions in the world of artists recording the natural world, and Vignettes will include a snapshot of some of the finest examples of the work of Australia's contemporary natural history artists,” he said. 
“While the hand drawn image might be no longer fundamental to the classification of plants and animals there is something extraordinary about the work of artists who have been trained in this tradition.   
“This exhibition gives us insights not just into the working methods but the personal philosophies of four artists who have devoted their considerable talents to natural history illustration. However, in this case their images, while certainly open to a ‘literal’ or ‘scientific’ interpretation, have also strayed into other waters — symbolism, metaphysics and even mysticism.”
Some of the most recent botanical art exhibitions at the Gallery include Capturing Flora, which the Gallery presented in 2012 and which has subsequently toured to Sydney, Armidale and Cairns, and a major retrospective of the work of Criss Canning.
“Vignettes will be an opportunity to marvel that objects from the natural world can be observed with such minute precision, while suggesting themes of a universal nature,” Mr Morrison added.
He said the exhibition will appeal to anyone who enjoys looking at the environment, be it flowers in a garden or creatures found on the seashore.
Amanda Ahmed is interested in the ways of seeing and understanding the world through botanical illustration during periods of European colonial exploration, and re-presenting her works in a personal and contemporary context, asking the questions whether its purpose is one of purely environmental documentation, and what its possibilities are for renewal and reinvention.
Mali Moir’s work in the exhibition arises from her participation in field expeditions, and by necessity her choice of subjects follows the focus of leading scientists, whether they be off the coasts of New Guinea Victoria, or deep in the Australian desert. Their intimate scale encourages the privileged view of a single person, nose to the glass, while her choice to paint on vellum, treated animal skin, referring directly to visceral human-animal relationships. 
John Pastoriza Piñol’s work arises from awareness of the impermanence of all things which engenders an appreciation of their beauty and their ephemerality, bringing together images of late summer and autumn foliage with designs used as tattoos on human skin. Regret, pride and passion seem to be common feelings among those who ink their skin. The permanency of a tattoo is a choice that can be an artistic expression or a regrettable scar. There is a risk of diminished personal and emotional attachment to the symbolism of a tattoo which can haunt you, especially if the decision is made permanent in ink.
Sandra Severgnini’s attraction to patterned and complex structures, and an awareness of the need to understand those structures, that drew her to search out botanical and natural history subjects which she has titled with synonyms for the word ‘structure’. In this her aim is not to simply imitate the subject, but to take the imagination beyond what is exposed and to interpret the whole by portraying a limited view, a 'Vignette'.
What: Vignettes
When: Saturday 31 January to Sunday 15 March 2015
Where: Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat
Details: Gallery open 10am – 5pm daily
Gallery website:
Media inquiries: John Myers, MediaWise 03 9818 6339 or 0409 215 120
Peter Freund, Art Gallery of Ballarat, 03 5320 5138 or 0407 501 818
  • image details Botanical Name: Acer japonica Common Name: Japanese maple leaf Title: Dylan Artist: John Pastoriza Piñol Medium: Watercolour on Manuscript Vellum Dimensions 125mm H x 120mm W Section:Brevity Year: 2014