Botanica artworks and artists

The following artworks were on display around the City Botanic Gardens as part of Botanica from 10-19 May 2019.


Plant Nation (2019)

Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline (MAPA)

From the lagoon a scaffold rises from which the flags of the plant nation are hoisted. Unlike human flags, the flag of the plant nation is fragile and impermanent, yet it contains within its fabric the seeds of its expansion. The plant nation has outlasted every human empire. The plant nation will outlive us as well.

Plant Nation played with the ideas and artefacts of nationhood. The work invited visitors to reconsider our relationship to land, to each other and to the many non-human species on which we so fundamentally depend.

Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline are an award-winning art and architecture collaborative. They are the co-directors of Moline Axelsen: Public Art/Participatory Architecture (MAPA). Moline and Axelsen work between the social and the spatial to encourage people to engage, question, understand and act upon the built and social structures in which we frame our lives.


Plant Nation was a development of material from Owner Occupy 2015 commissioned by Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation in 2015 and The Visitors, commissioned by Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in 2017.


Hoisted (2019)


First Nations Peoples across the world hold a wealth of knowledge and respect for country borne from years of sustainable care. What if we could fully embrace their continuing care of the ancient land and animals? Could inventing visual symbols of sovereignty for plants and animals change the way we value the environment and our relationship to it? Hoisted was a user-generated interactive flag formulator installation. It invited visitors to create their own flag to fly among those installed in the Palm Circle, representing the flora and fauna of the City Botanic Gardens.

Inkahoots is internationally renowned for making innovative public communication at the intersection of design, art and activism. With a focus on designing democratic spaces for public dialogue, Inkahoots practice creative collaboration for community, culture and ecology.


Shattered (2019)

City Botanic Gardens

Shattered called on the heritage of the City Botanic Gardens with the use of the traditional plantings and species familiar to the gardens and their European heritage. This history brings together vivid colours and shapes inspired by both Brisbane's pre-European past and the modern city visibly rising around the gardens' perimeter. The suite of plant species in Shattered expressed our horticultural adaptability over time. Further adapting the gardens to future climate changes will see species selection reliance and the practicality of traditional format garden displays questioned as we move into an uncertain climate future.

Designed by City Botanic Gardens staff members Maria Fallon and Blair Anderson using fresh ideas to present a traditional and well-loved floral display. The gardens' horticultural team come together to install the design typically over a three-day period with approximately 10,000 plants used for each new display.


Vulgaris (2019)

Ross Manning

Vulgaris was an immersive installation revealing a hidden sonic landscape in the City Botanic Gardens. A soundscape that it not ordinarily audible, but is ever present – inseparable and unique to each plant's existence. In addition to the sheer size and quality of the bamboo, Ross Manning was drawn to this site for its acoustics. While pressing his ear to a bamboo trunk, Manning was amazed to hear a rich variety of knocking sounds, remnant of bamboo instruments and wind chimes, echoing the bamboo movements in the breeze cracking, creaking, rustling and rubbing.

Ross Manning creates kinetic sculptures made from everyday materials such as domestic fans, fluorescent lights, household twine and electronics. He playfully dissects overlooked technologies to produce hypnotic exchanges between light, sound and movement. Manning's practice is inherently underpinned by science in his attempts to poetically manifest the inner workings of the technological infrastructure supporting our everyday lives.


Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.


Sugared Land/s (2019)

Sancintya Mohini Simpson

Banyan trees are considered a holy and healing place in Indian culture, holding the weight of generational histories. They are a sheltered place to remember, acknowledge and heal collectively as they reach to the earth for support to continue growth and evolution. A large Banyan tree is still present in the City Botanic Gardens where it was planted in the 1870s by the same garden’s curator who experimented with cane sugar for plantations across Queensland. Through sound and film, Simpson explored the significance of this site and its connection to her own maternal ancestry: the Indian diaspora of indentured labourers who worked on sugar cane plantations across the world.

Sancintya Mohini Simpson is an interdisciplinary artist examining the complexities of racial and migratory experiences within Australia. Informed by her heritage as a bi-racial first-generation Australian of Indian-Anglo descent, Simpson draws inspiration from her maternal ancestors in Natal, South Africa, taken as indentured labourers, and their continuing journey of intergenerational healing.


Image taken from Cleansing Ritual (2018), sound performance with Isha Ram Das and Indarami Simpson. Metro Arts, 2018. Photograph: Savannah van der Niet.


Waste Piles (2019)

Five Mile Radius

Waste Piles considered the use of unsustainable building materials and supply chains in the perpetual cycle of development.

Construction waste otherwise destined for landfill was collected from building sites in central Brisbane and cast to form monolithic seating blocks. These discarded by-products of the built environment became an informal amphitheatre, a ruinous landscape amongst a green oasis of bamboo and trees. Visitors were invited to sit amongst these waste remnants, to observe them up close and to consider their impact on the natural environment.

Five Mile Radius is a Brisbane-based design and architectural studio focused on the use of locally sourced building materials in construction. The studio researches, designs and promotes sustainable building design and considers each project as a unique exploration of the potential of a place, its community and resources.


Supported by Queensland University of Technology, UAP - Urban Art Projects and Brisbane builders (supply of construction waste).


A Weave Through Time (2019)

Grace Lillian Lee

If we were to speak through our clothing, how would this look? A Weave Through Time was an exploration of the past, present and future. In this work, Grace Lillian Lee explored a traditional weaving technique in various materials and reflected on how clothing defines identity and forms connections. The large-scale projection featured photographs of a grandmother, mother and daughter adorned in pieces made by Lee with the grasshopper weaving technique passed on by her mentor Uncle Ken Thaiday Snr. The photographs were animated in seamless transition, illustrating the forever changing progression of life and parallels of materiality, industrialisation, adornment and form.

Grace Lillian Lee is a dynamic Indigenous creative that is setting new benchmarks in wearable arts. Lee explores her Torres Strait cultural identity through fashion, using traditional weaving practices and transforming them into contemporary adornment pieces. Her passion lies within collaborations and mentoring other Indigenous creatives to develop their practices and encourage cultural creative expression through garments and adornments.


Photography is by Grace Lillian Lee and features models from her family (Grandma Marcella Lillian Lee, Aunty Rasma Yelland and her cousin, Rachael Yelland).


Body (2019)

Sandra Selig

The word 'body' can be used to determine a multitude of entities such as the human body, a body of water, a body of text, and so on. In astronomy, it is used to describe planets and stars, celestial objects and the 'heavenly' body. Body was an ordinary round white balloon suspended and floating, hovering just metres above the ground. Projected on the white surface was a video comprised of footage of City Botanic Garden plants, the sky and line drawings in and around Selig's studio.

Sandra Selig is known for her sublime site-specific installations, where threads strung through spaces create weightless, ephemeral geometric forms. She often uses a range of everyday materials including string, straws, paper and flyscreen mesh. Her practice extends into sound, through her independent work and as a member of electronic duo, Primitive Motion (with Leighton Craig).


Courtesy of Milani Gallery, Brisbane and Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney.


Circle Work (resting) (2019)

Julie-Anne Milinski

The grasses that make up the well-kept lawns in the City Botanic Gardens are some of its hardest working plants. Visitors use the lush green lawn for many activities such as sports, picnics, festivals and weddings – to rest and rejuvenate, to enjoy and celebrate. Keeping the lawns weeded, watered, mown and fertilised requires significant natural, financial and labour resources. What happens when this perpetual cycle of maintenance is interrupted, letting nature take its course? Circle Work (resting) allowed circular areas of lawn on Residence Hill to take a break from routine maintenance, to relax and grow wild.

Julie-Anne Milinski is a Brisbane-based artist working in sculpture and installation. Her practice explores humanity's relationship with their environment to reveal reciprocities and interdependencies with other living things, and the liveliness of the materials we introduce into our shared habitat.


The artist wishes to thank Jason Nicol and staff at the City Botanic Gardens for their assistance in the realisation of Circle Work (resting). The artist acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Custodians of the land, past, present and future.


Sky Pool (2019)

Post Datum

Sky Pool was an installation consisting of a field of floating acrylic mirrors located in the North West Lagoon of the City Botanic Gardens. Drawing inspiration from lily pads, the installation highlighted the natural spaces within the landscape and their intrinsic communal and environmental value, now and into the future. The reflective circles acted as portals that enhanced the water's own reflective qualities by forming a strong connection between the pond and the sky. The circular surfaces broadcasted the surrounding environment, both natural and artificial, providing a new perspective of the gardens.

Post Datum is a student-run artist collective comprised of early career emerging visual artists based at QUT, Brisbane. Post Datum is comprised of a diverse range of students from different experiences who devise and develop collaborative projects using a democratic and consensus-based approach. This project features the contributions from: Ella Callander, Joaquin Gonzales, Amelia McLeish, Kellie Parsons, Abigail Rutter, Kimberly Stokes, Jessica Tracey, Rhanjell Villanueva, and Keemon Williams.


This work was generously facilitated by in-kind support from Queensland University of Technology Creative Industries, Charles Robb, and Dr. Daniel McKewen.


Glasshouses (2019)

Christine Ko

Glass, or green houses, are transparent structures that are used to protect plants that are sensitive to the surrounding environment. Glasshouses aimed to utilise the characteristics associated with glasshouses to critique ideas around difference, other-ness, exoticisation and hybridity and the role these play in contemporary Australian society. Reflections of the surrounding colonialised landscape were overlaid onto the foreign landscapes printed within, creating a hybridised image acting as a metaphorical reference to contemporary multi-cultural identity. However, as these images remained separate, the foreign retained its exotic status by remaining as a 'specimen' within the glass-like outer containers.

Christine Ko is an emerging visual artist based in Brisbane working with large scale installation and photomedia to explore marginality and spaces characterised by the ‘in-between’. Christine's practice draws from her personal experience as a Chinese-Australian immigrant to examine the state of feeling caught 'in-between'.


This work was generously facilitated by support from Griffith University – Queensland College of the Arts, where Christine Ko is currently undertaking study.


Time and Tide (2019)

Paula Payne

The ephemeral work Time and Tide visualised remnants of tidal floods in the landscape of the City Botanic Gardens. In 1974 and 2011, and recently 2019 Townsville, floods impacted many – both physically and psychologically. By presenting a painted tidal mark in the landscape, ideas of how rising waters potentially change lives and the landscape were explored. Human-induced global warming is a main contributor to rising waters at this time.

Through an expanded painting practice Payne continues to investigate the way human inhabitation in the 21st century has dramatic effects on the natural environment. Currently undertaking full-time doctoral studies, multiple thoughts and layers are represented through imagery as a way of being in the world.


The artist acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Custodians of the land, past, present and future. This work has been generously facilitated by in-kind support from Griffith University - Queensland Collage of Art, where Paula Payne is currently undertaking study.

More information

For more information about the exhibition visit Botanica.

Last updated:6 June 2019
Topics: creative