Valerie Sparks: This is not a wallflower

For ‘This is not a wallflower’, Valerie Sparks brings landscape and botanical art together through a series of wallpaper installations.

‘Sanctuary’ provides the over-arching concept for a new long-term project. It refers to the idea of sanctuary as a space for us to dwell in as well as the spaces people create to provide safety and protection for plants.

Sparks explores the role art and science plays in this symbiotic relationship in her floral panels, the first works to emerge from this project and her ongoing residency with Melbourne florist Flowers Vasette. These works pay homage to key women botanical artists, including Ellis Rowan, Marianne North and Louisa Anne Meredith, in particular the work of Tasmania artist, Margaret Anderson Hope (1938-1934), who made significant contributions to our understanding of bio-diversity.

Valerie Sparks, Protea, 2019, wallpaper installation, 200 x 89cm. Courtesy the artist and Bett Gallery, Hobart

‘French scenic wallpapers have been an enduring source of inspiration for my practice. I use photography to bring this aesthetic into a contemporary milieu as a way to create connections between historic and contemporary representations of the Australian landscape. I am interested in creating landscapes that resonate with a sense of familiarity but are at the same time non-specific; a representation of Australia as a hybrid, pluralistic place, blending disparate elements from local and distant locations.

The French term ‘Le Vol’ translates as flight, flying, theft, robbery, burglary. For the birds in this work, life and flight have been stolen and yet strangely reanimated by the taxidermist. To create Le Vol, I photographed over 100 specimens from Australia, the Pacific, Africa, Europe and South America during residencies at the Vienna and La Rochelle Natural History Museums. Where-as collecting practices have changed dramatically, as implied in the title, Le Vol raises questions about early collecting as acts of theft.’ – Valerie Sparks

Valerie Sparks, Le Vol 1 Illusion & Allusion, 2019, wallpaper installation, 467 x 244cm. Courtesy the artist and Bett Gallery, Hobart

Bett Gallery
18 October to 9 November 2019