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Print of Place: Dianne Strahan

A solo exhibition exploring a lifelong love affair with plants, and the slow making process of botanical printing.

September 16 October 16

Opening night: Thursday 16 September, 6pm. RSVP here.
Exhibition dates: 17 September – 16 October 2021
NEXIS (Narrogin Exhibition Space) 84 Federal St Narrogin
Gallery hours: 10am – 4pm, Wednesday – Saturday.

Artist Statement

My love affair with plants has been a constant in my life as both my parents were keen gardeners, Dad in the vegie patch and mum in her treasured flower garden. Growing up within a short drive of the Murray River in Victoria I was blessed with lots of summers swimming, fishing, or bird watching while meandering amongst the river gums and through the forest areas of this beautiful river.

I first tried botanical printing about 10 years ago when I printed some gum leaves onto a scarf I had previously dyed with a commercial dye and I was hooked. I have done a variety of workshops with botanical printing/dyeing artists such as India Flint and Penny Jewell.

Botanical printing is a slow making process, wandering through the Australian landscape: bushland, town streets or gardens collecting leaves; learning which plants ‘give’, which have lots of tannins, what temperature suits which plant or flower; the chemistry of the dye, changing the colour using metallic salts to darken or lighten colours all takes time.

Waiting while the steaming process takes place; the scent of the steam emanating from the pot; taking out the super-hot bundles, trying to wait until they are cool enough to handle. Opening each bundle is like opening a much anticipated gift, never quite sure what will be inside, but knowing you will be thrilled whatever the outcome. Peeling back the layers of plants from the paper or fabric; gently pulling them open and hanging them to dry, no two ever the same.

Steve and I have spent quite a bit of time traveling through WA over the past 10 years, towing the caravan wherever we went. Steve soon got tired of me calling for a halt every time I saw an interesting plant, so we settled on three stops per day. I would sit, eyes flicking left and right looking for the spot with the most diverse species, jumping out and walking the side of the road, surprised at the amount of plants hiding in plain sight.
I create a lot of books that are site specific, or in some cases road specific, each telling the story of somewhere we have been and each bringing back memories of our travels.