Hazelhurst Arts Centre exhibition explores beauty of Royal National Park

A French-born artist has documented the beauty of the Royal National Park in a photographic exhibition that runs at Hazelhurst Arts Centre until Tuesday.

Flore Vallery-Radot was born in Paris but has lived in Grays Point, on the edge of the national park, for six years.

Aphotographer and filmmaker who has also worked as a textile journalist and writer, she says she now enjoys "exploring and sharing my vision of the world through my Leica lens".

The result is foreign/native - A Walk through the Royal National Park - which documents the fauna she has discovered during long bushwalks.

The name of the exhibition is derived from the"wild environment" she encountered during her daily hour-long bushwalks, where she felt "like a complete foreigner" in what was a natural environment.

"I used to know the name of many French native plants in Paris where I was born, or in Burgundy where my family originates from, [but here] I suddenly felt lost, as if looking at street signs in a country with a different alphabet," she said.

"Every day I went on a quest to discover new plants, trees, and ecosystems. I realised the immense biodiversity of the Royal National Park and wanted to document it for my own enjoyment."

After extensively researching the plants she photographed, she decided "not to be too literal".

"My approach since then is to leave some mystery around my photos. I treat each plant as a new character I'm meeting. I shoot dark, chiaroscuro portraits of them," she said.

Vallery-Radot said it wasn't long before shediscovered "the other side" of the national park - the discarded plastic cups, old T-shirts, underwear, broken doors, car wheels and rusty caravans, or the damage done by cyclists and bushwalkers who leave behind rubbish and harm shrubs and trees.

"My idea is to show the contrast between the exquisite beauty of this unique natural environment and the lack of care we give it," she said.

"I want to show people how fragile nature is and how our disrespectful attitude can slowly destroy it."

She said everything she photographed and filmed in the national park used natural light, and she didn't "move, touch anything or use any artificial backdrop".

foreign/native - A Walk through the Royal National Park, is in the Broadhurst Gallery of Hazelhurst Arts Centre until August 25.

Details: click here.