WHAT'S ON

New exhibition at Hazelhurst Arts Centre showcases the secret life of plants

Cheers to that: Artists Max Samways, Naomi Woodlands, Christian Druitt-Preston, Lorraine Avery and Nicole Low celebrate the first official opening of an exhibition at Hazelhurst Arts Centre since before COVID-19. Picture: Supplied
Cheers to that: Artists Max Samways, Naomi Woodlands, Christian Druitt-Preston, Lorraine Avery and Nicole Low celebrate the first official opening of an exhibition at Hazelhurst Arts Centre since before COVID-19. Picture: Supplied

It has been a long time between drinks at Hazelhurst Arts Centre, Gymea.

In fact, it has been more than a year since a new exhibition could be officially opened due to COVID-19 restrictions.

But an easing of restrictions meant artists from the Southern Printmakers Association could get together and raise their glasses at the opening of their latest exhibition, The Secret Life of Plants, on May 1.

Southern Printmakers Association president Kim Whitbread said it was an "understatement to say how much we enjoyed gathering together for the sake of art".

"Most of us have been working in isolation for the past year," she said.

"Whilst Zoom has played a crucial role in helping us organise the exhibition and stay connected to one another, virtual experience doesn't come close to replacing real encounters."

The exhibition, which is now showing in the Broadhurst Gallery, saw artists explore the 'secret' aspect of plant life.

The aftermath of the 2019-20 bushfires followed soon after by the COVID-19 lockdown revealed the miracle of Australia's native flora at a time when lives slowed down and many people found renewed hope in the natural beauty of their surrounds.

Lorraine Avery's work, Secrets.

Lorraine Avery's work, Secrets.

With over 391,000 species of plants in the world and about 2000 new plant species discovered each year, the prints in the exhibition approached the theme in creative and thoughtful ways.

Bushfires and the regenerative powers of our natural flora featured strongly in the exhibition, while some artists captured the importance of the relationship between plants, insects and birds.

The exhibition features 60 prints by 29 artists who demonstrated a wide range of printmaking techniques and subject matter.

While some of the works celebrate the colour of the natural world, others are monochrome.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a collaborative piece - a wall displaying more than 250 individually printed leaves - offering a statement about the diversity of the plant world.

For her work, Lorraine Avery took 20 collograph prints and stitched them together to reveal the hidden life of gardens in the Middle Ages and the use of what modern society deems weeds.

Another artist, Carole Shaw, explored the theme of botanical shapes, stripping back plants to their basic forms in a series of stencil prints.

Meanwhile, Christine Druitt-Preston presented a more personal insight, depicting a "secret spot" in the garden for relaxation and reflection.

Details: The Secret Life of Plants, is in the Broadhurst Gallery at Hazelhurst Arts Centre, 782 Kingsway, Gymea, until May 12.

Entry is free.