Media release

The ‘Sartorial Naturalist’ project brings wild and endangered flora into sharp focus.

One of Australia’s leading botanical artists will lead a multiform art collaboration of nationally and internationally recognised design, cinematic, post production, music and dance professionals to capture the beauty and fragility of some of Tasmania’s endangered flora.


Renowned textile artist Deborah Wace has been awarded an Australia Council for the Arts Project Grant for The Sartorial Naturalist Project.


“I am so grateful to receive an Australia Council for the Arts grant for such a collaborative and creative project,” said Deborah. “It enables me to elevate advocacy for Tasmania’s threatened wild flora to an international platform.”


The recent hiatus across the Australian arts industry due to COVID-19 restrictions and hard lockdowns created increased demand for the 2020 Australia Council Projects Grants. The same restrictions also presented a rare opportunity for artists and professionals to collaborate and create over an extended period.


The Australia Council Grant for The Sartorial Naturalist Project enables the development of a short-film format presentation of the underwater interplay of dancers with swathes of fabric printed with Deborah’s designs of wild and endangered Tasmanian flora.


The underwater sequences, scheduled for April 2021, will be filmed in Hobart Aquatic Centre Dive pool.


Co-collaborators on the project include some of Australia’s most experienced film makers: two-time winner and six-time AFI/AACTA production and post production nominee Michael Gissing, and documentary producer, director and editor Lara van Raay.


Palawa choreographer and dancer Sinsa Mansell and contemporary dance artist Felicity Bott plus Isobel Fraser, will submerge themselves to interact with Deborah Wace’s fabrics, performed to a commissioned musical score by emerging Tasmanian composer Elicia Casey-Winter.


The multimedia format of The Sartorial Naturalist Project will significantly increase Deborah Wace’s capacity to showcase Tasmania’s wild and endangered botany to a wider audience.


The aim is that, by raising her advocacy for habitat protection to an international platform, these precious habitats will not only survive but flourish.


The project will reveal a deep and fascinating backstory of connection among the Palawa, French naturalists visiting Tasmania in 1792-3, the early botanical specimen collections of France, England and Italy, Deborah Wace’s 2017-18 Churchill Fellowship, contemporary Palawa and Tasmanian dancers, musicians and composers, film and documentary makers, and the incredible visual capabilities of underwater camera technology.


Featured botanical design at top: Kelp Forest from my ‘Sartorial Naturalist’ collection.

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