Bon Voyage? 250 Years Exploring the Natural World SHNH summer meeting and AGM in association with the British Ornithologists’ Club, World Museum Liverpool Thursday 14th and Friday 15th June 2018

Deborah Wace, Churchill Fellow 2018
Abstract for my paper: Art and History in the French Garden at Recherche Bay; Labillardiere’s collections explored in contemporary art.

The French D’Entrecasteaux Scientific Expedition to Recherche Bay, Tasmania in 1792-3 resulted in a historical collection containing significant botanical, zoological, cartographic, geo-magnetic and ethnographic/linguistic material. Expedition scientists included naturalist Labillardiere who authored Novae Hollandiae Plantarum Specimen, extensively documenting the flora and Felix La Haye, who planted a French Garden at Recherche Bay.

La Haye’s French garden was re-discovered in 2003, invigorating a local grassroots community campaign to protect this site from the predations of industrial logging. The campaign was successful in highlighting the global value and important historical legacy of this expedition and location. My artistic involvement as a printmaker and singer/songwriter in the campaign built renewed interest in the early collections of the naturalists, advocating for the respect and protection of these valuable Type Localities. Through printmaking, specimen collection/arrangement, my ongoing practice currently involves digitising these for print onto fabric to showcase this historical legacy in a contemporary context.

The presentation will draw on the story of the expedition and my artwork developed in response, outlining how an artistic lens can highlight the conservation values of this threatened locality. Art and music is a powerful tool for educating the public about important cross cultural, historical and conservation issues.

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