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Storytelling Through Tasmanian Film Collaborations

Bringing art to life through designs featuring Tasmania’s unique and threatened plants, botanical artist Deborah Wace truly understands the power of film to tell stories that deeply connect with their audience. She also understands the amazing things that can be achieved when she collaborates with filmmakers, especially when the filmmaker has a strong connection with and understanding of her botanical art.  It is no surprise that Deborah’s work with its stunning visuals, backed up with intricate and rich storytelling and song, has been a natural fit for working with several well-respected Tasmanian-based filmmakers.

Film is an entertaining, highly creative, and adaptable means of connecting with audiences. It can be full of visually embedded meaning that has the capacity to resonate differently with each viewer, how they interpret the story and what it means to them.

Deborah’s films ‘let the pictures tell the story’ with visuals and music often the pseudo-actors. This approach sets this kind of film free from language barriers, primed for Deborah’s diverse and global audience.

 

Michael Gissing, an internationally acclaimed cinematographer, colour grader, and audio engineer has worked closely with Deborah for several years and produced a multitude of short films that capture the story behind her Tasmanian botanical art, professional printmaking, and fabric design. He commented that when making films ‘illustration is key’ and that as they say in the filmmaking industry, ‘no pictures and it didn’t happen.’

 

Science, botany, and the environmental conservation of Tasmanian flora are the three major touchstones of Deborah’s work. Following these trajectories, her art journey has been continuously captured on film and then archived; ensuring that the footage is ready to be accessed and woven together when there is a new story to be told. 

 

Ongoing Impact of ‘The Sartorial Naturalist’

Scenes from ‘The Sartorial Naturalist’ short film were supplied to ABC’s Gardening Australia program for Deborah’s ‘Down My Garden Path’ 7.5 minute segment in June 2022. This high-quality vision, which had been professionally filmed by Michael Gissing with underwater footage by Fraser Johnston and produced by Michael Gissing, greatly enriched the Gardening Australia story and segment length. Importantly, the film collaboration Deborah has forged with Michael meant that the story was conveyed in a visually beautiful film language that was easily relatable for viewers.

Boronia Beach photo & film shoot

In 2023, Deborah’s focus has been on telling stories of the threat of climate change to Tasmania’s giant kelp, seaweed, and other marine life through her art – echoing ground-breaking new discoveries and development in this area. In doing so, she has drawn on marine themes from her film footage. Scenes incorporating seaweed from ‘The Sartorial Naturalist’ were displayed to scientists at the 2023 IMAS conference (University of Tasmania Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies), and Deborah’s artwork was showcased in the ‘Beneath the Surface: Seaweed-inspired art’ exhibition.

Tasmanian Design Culture

In mid-2023, Ivett Dodd collaborated with Deborah in the production of Ivett’s book, ‘Designers of lutruwita / Tasmania’. Dodd’s book reveals the unique diversity of Tasmanian design culture and focuses on 24 makers, designers and artisans. Ivett held a photo shoot at a secluded beach with Lily Sassafras modelling new silk garments and swimsuits printed with Deborah’s botanical artwork, the same art-adorned full-body swimming costumes as in ‘The Sartorial Naturalist’ but this time conveyed using the photographer’s unique creative. Michael Gissing collected footage of this event for further storytelling.

 

In Deborah’s many public and business presentations, she weaves film into her narrative to connect with, excite, and enlighten her audiences. Film is her ‘go-to’ with its strength and capacity to tell multi-faceted stories.

Lily modelling a silk garment printed with Deborah’s artwork-min_Cropped
Lily modelling a silk garment printed with Deborah’s artwork

Working with Filmmakers

Deborah is incredibly grateful to have worked with filmmakers from earlier in her career through to the present, and the opportunities the future holds.

‘I have great respect for the enriching nature of collaboration within the arts field. Many years of skills and experience flow into the production of a finished work. Film and sound recording can amplify this to a wide audience, in rich and diverse ways!’

Film holds an intrinsic nature and power of collaboration, incorporating filmmakers, sound and soundscapes, talent, locations and post-production.

 

Filmmakers use their tools at hand, with a hugely diverse skillset, including rapidly evolving AI and other technology for video masking, depth maps and other postproduction. Process coupled with skills has been utilised for slow-motion footage, such as in the Threatened Species Dance.

 

There is ample footage that will be on show in Deborah’s future displays, some of which have already been edited by Mark Keating. Mark and Michael Gissing are long-term collaborative partners, having worked on numerous large-scale documentaries and film projects together.

Filmmaker Profiles

Deborah would like to acknowledge and thank the following amazingly talented people who’ve been part of a long-term collaboration:

Michael Gissing

An expert cinematographer, audio engineer and colour grader. Michael specialises in documentary and drama post-production, also engaging in training and mentorship programs. He has mixed well over 1200 documentary soundtracks and colour-graded over 250 documentaries as well as working on many short films, TV series and museum installations. In 2007 he received the Stanley Hawes Award for services to the documentary industry. In 2022, Michael was awarded Gold by the Australian Cinematographers Society for his work on ‘The Sartorial Naturalist’ at the combined Tasmania & Victoria Awards in the Arts, Innovation and Specialised Cinematography section. Michael has worked on The Sartorial Naturalist, Van Diemen’s Band Harpsichord, Threatened Species Dance, and the Boronia Beach modelling photo shoot.

Michael Gissing's Gold Award for The Sartorial Natualist-min_Compressed
Michael Gissing's Gold Award for The Sartorial Natualist

Fraser Johnston

An accomplished filmmaker and producer known for his exceptional work in documentary and underwater cinematography. With a passion for the ocean and its fascinating inhabitants, Fraser has dedicated his career to capturing the beauty and mystery of the underwater world. He filmed all the underwater scenes in ‘The Sartorial Naturalist’.

Lara van Raay

the founder of Small World Documentaries, a multimedia production company specialising in short-form documentaries. Lara is a multi-skilled content creator who has been involved in the production of over 70 short and longer-form documentaries and has over 25 years of experience working in the media industry as well as for broadcasters in Australia, Europe and The Middle East. Lara worked in a production role for ‘The Sartorial Naturalist’, and mentored Leonie Fahey in creating her short film for the ABC, ‘Art of the Wild Tasmanian Orchid’.

Roger Scholes

An Australian independent film and television maker from 1983 onwards. He worked as a producer, director, writer, script editor, cinematographer, and editor in drama and documentary projects for cinema and television. Roger generously helped troubleshoot the engineering of props for underwater filming and mentored the storyboarding for ‘The Sartorial Naturalist.’

Anna Cadden

A producer, cinematographer, photographer and visual artist with over 20 years of industry experience. Anna has facilitated the production of hundreds of films and provided film, photography and community broadcasting training in remote locations across Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. Anna helped plot the storyline and develop the shot sequences for ‘The Sartorial Naturalist.’

Lily modelling with photographer Ivett Dodd

Joe Shemesh

An Australian cinematographer specialising in nature and aerial cinematography. As a photographer and cinematographer, Joe has collaborated with TV, film, music, art, and made work for protests, parks, tourism and performances. Joe accompanied Deborah on her 2018 Churchill Fellowship and made the film ‘Fabric of Botany,’ as well as documenting Deborah’s Recherche Bay Arts Residency.

Mark Keating

Is a film editor and Foley Artist based in Tasmania. Mark is editing a series (in the making) about Deborah’s 2019 Murray Street Studio launch by Peter Cundall. He is a long-time associate of Michael Gissing.

Amy Brown

A freelance Tasmanian photographer who has worked in print media and TV production, specialising in design, portrait and commercial photography. Amy has photographed Deborah’s modelled silk products and also captured footage for ‘Threatened Species Dance’, with post-production by Michael Gissing.

Ivett Dodd

A photographer based in Tasmania, specialising in wedding, portrait and product photography. She is immersed in a book project called ‘Designers of lutruwita / Tasmania.’ This book is about the unique diversity of our design culture and it portrays 24 makers, designers and artisans. Ivett captured Deborah’s modelled garments in a photo shoot for Ivett’s book project, which was simultaneously filmed by Michael Gissing.

Photographer Ivett Dodd

Angela Pelizarri

A creative director, film titles designer, photographer and artist. For more than two decades, Angela has been creating works in photography, filmmaking, title design, art direction, and design and motion graphics. Angela has worked on a wide range of projects from mainstream film productions to commercial photography. She developed branding imagery for Deborah WACE, winning the ‘Digital’ category in the prestigious 2023 Diemen Awards for her work on our marketing brochure.

Alexander Palmer

A filmmaker (Flowing Image Videography) and specialist in corporate website video production. Deborah remembers what was ‘really the first foray into film for me,’ when Alex filmed Deborah’s 2011 Barrack Street Studio launch opened by Brian Ritchie.

Thanks also to the Gardening Australia film and production crew for their work on the 2022 ‘Down My Garden Path’ segment with Deborah.

 

And that’s a wrap!

If you would like to literally wrap yourself in wild Tasmania, Deborah’s silk satin scarves are a brilliant way to do just that. If you are interested in bespoke botanical artwork, connect with Deborah to discuss how her unique artwork could bring enrichment to your context.

 

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