Amanda Johnson poses timely and complex questions in her work. How has our physical and cultural encounter with parks and gardens changed? Has the picturesque garden subject (as landscape vista, folly, or symbol of civic confidence) been relegated to expressions of cultural nostalgia as environmental problems take their toll?
Parks and gardens were quickly established in Australian colonies to celebrate settlement. The rise of botanical scientific collections and the global exchange of exotic plant species and cultivars predates and supports the emergence of formal Australian parks. Colonial documentors of flora and fauna assumed that their subjects would endure in perpetuity; naturalists, artists and voyagers were also enamoured of glimpses of what they perceived to be ‘gentlemen’s parks’, mistakenly believing tracts of land were devoid of Indigenous inhabitants.
Drawing on field trips to botanic gardens and national park sites, these paintings offer correctives to these views, re-thinking early botanical empire building, or colonisation by seed. The images question the imposition of European park templates, evoking the problematic ecological impacts of colonisation upon country and land.