Botanical artist Deborah Wace designed and produced a bespoke artwork which features on the underside of the lid of the Van Diemen’s Band’s harpsichord, which was officially launched in Hobart on 21 August 2023. A special addition to this internationally acclaimed chamber orchestra, the harpsichord travelled all the way from Titus Crijnen’s workshop in Sabiñán, Spain to Australian shores. Deborah’s design masterpiece showcases 31 Tasmanian botanical species, and multiple drypoint and monoprint elements created especially for the harpsichord.
Art and science were interlinked through the entire design process, and remarkably, a great many of Deborah’s plant specimens were collected from Tasmania as Type Specimens by the French naturalist JJH Labillardiere in the early 1790s, not long after the true Baroque period.
Deborah Wace was approached in January 2022 by Julia Fredersdorff, Artistic Director, and Christopher Lawrence, musician and long-time ABC Radio broadcaster, to design the underside of the lid of the newly commissioned harpsichord for Van Diemen’s Band (VDB).
Van Diemen’s Band, ‘Australia’s Baroque supergroup’, is renowned for breathing new life into historically-informed performance, delivering extraordinary performances across lutruwita/Tasmania and beyond. VDB is made up of some of the country’s most highly respected early music specialists. Founded in 2016 by violinist Julia Fredersdorff, VDB varies in size from an intimate chamber group to a larger orchestra. VDB explores the creativity and expressiveness of the baroque while deferring to historical sources on style and instrumentation.
Deborah worked in her Hobart studio to create the original printmaking elements and with graphic design consultant Nelson Grubb (Tall Design), to integrate the huge layered files of the Tasmanian herbarium specimens and printmaking.
‘I created the plates and prints onto paper for the botanical drypoint and monoprint elements of vase, rocks, sea and sky, in my dedicated design and printmaking studio,’ says Deborah. ‘Some of the larger orchid drypoint prints have been created over the last 10 years.’
‘The pressed Tasmanian botanical specimens are from my private herbarium and element library, which I have collected over the past 30 years.’
‘They have been sourced with ecological sustainability in mind and with the correct permissions from private land owners across Tasmania.’
‘The design is true to the Baroque nature of the harpsichord, which traditionally depicts landscapes with rich border ornamentation.’
‘Here I show a profusion of Tasmanian flora in herbarium specimen form and in drypoint and monoprint form, held in a large vase, perched on a rocky headland by the sea.
‘I am so proud to have had the opportunity to create a bespoke botanical art design for such a beautiful instrument that will grace the world’s orchestral chambers and concert halls for many years to come.’
The harpsichord was officially unveiled at the Hobart Town Hall Ballroom on Monday, 21 August 2023. The evening featured a short performance from VDB Artistic Director Julia Fredersdorff on a Baroque violin and Donald Nicolson playing on this newly commissioned harpsichord for the very first time.
A second performance by some of the VDB musicians was conducted at the media launch held on Tuesday, 22 August. This time, Julia Fredersdorff and Donald Nicolson were accompanied by Laura Vaughan on viola da gamba.
Acknowledgement & Thanks
– Van Diemen’s Band, Artistic Director
– Full Gamut, Master Printer
– Graphic Design Consultant
Donors who supported the creation of the instrument by financially sponsoring a note, a chord, or an entire octave, are included in the final design shown as two sheets of parchment perched on the rocks of a headland overlooking a wild seascape.
If you are interested in a bespoke botanical artwork, contact Deborah to discuss how her unique artwork could bring enrichment in your context.