Our New Challenge

Botanical Splendiferous

Botanical Splendiferous

Mardie Whitla and Deidre Ogilvie describe the creation of their botanical installation

Seven artists from Melbourne-based Creativity Cluster began planning for our exhibition, Melbourne: Our Creative Heart, with a group lunch meeting at Beaumaris in early January 2022. We were able to develop this exhibition, thanks to support from a City of Melbourne Arts Grant.

With a wide range of artistic skills, our group had developed a variety of ideas by January 23. One of these ideas was working together in various pairs.

By March we had also decided on bringing to our exhibition three large central artworks.

The emergence of Botanical Splendiferous

Botanical Splendiferous gradually emerged from a joint endeavour by Deidre and Mardie, in Mardie’s garage. Despite the distance between our workplaces (a half hour there and back on each occasion for Deidre), we managed, in true Melbournian manner, a coffee to get us going each visit.

Mardie Whitla starting work on what will eventually become Botanical Splendiferous
Deidre Ogilvie at work on adding papier mache to the infrastructure

Creating the infrastructure

A couple of bricks, a curtain rod, an antique golf club, a cylinder of chicken wire, various circular bases, an old bike basket, a garden climbing frame, and lots of old newspapers were the beginning of our installation.

The odds and sods providing the basic infrastructure
Making papier mache with old newspapers
Stuffing papier mache into the structural framework
Papier mache drying

A potpourri of objects

As a starting point for gathering our thoughts, we made a list of possible objects.

These included natural objects – flowers in various shapes, trees, water, birds, swans, mushrooms, butterflies, ladybirds, frogs and insects, and stones for paths.They also included manufactured objects, such as statues, garden seats, picnic tables and chairs, flowerpots and green houses.

Deidre creating objects from clay
Some of the ceramic accoutrements for the installation
Deidre organising objects to include in the installation
Starting to assemble the bits and bobs

Mutual learning

We shared skills. We shared suggestions regarding placements. We learnt from each other.

A couple of workshops moulding clay, arranging found objects, drift wood, rocks and a drone. A few
ceramic pieces for live flowers, a chimney for small ceramic pieces. To this was added a generous serve
of green spray paint.

Partly assembled and painted

Mardie and the installation in progress
Almost there
Closer view of the base

Melbourne: Our garden city

All this was assembled, together with the inspiration of the Garden State, as front of mind.

We hope our viewers will smile at our installation and enjoy the outdoor spaces in our garden city.

And finally, installed in the Library at the Dock gallery