Saturday, July 27th, 2019
Anne MacDonald
The Botanical: Beauty and Peril at the Art Gallery of Western Australia

Congratulations to Anne MacDonald who will be exhibiting at at the Art Gallery of Western Australia as part of a group exhibition titled The Botanical: Beauty and Peril.

This major exhibition explores the abundant beauty of the botanical world and the threats that assail it. The Botanical: Beauty and Peril draws from the renowned Janet Holmes à Court Collection and the AGWA Collection to present a vivid, involving and sometimes disturbing journey through the diverse representation by Australian artists of the glorious kingdom of plants.

From wildflower rooms to bush fire photography, the show both celebrates the natural beauty of landscapes and plants, and raises bracing issues about environmental destruction and the land rights of Australia’s First Peoples. By turns immersive, stimulating, moving and inspiring, the exhibition is designed to stimulate conversations about our botanical world and how we live in it, and live with it.

An immersive installation of 25 photographs from Anne MacDonald’s 1993 work entitled Ophelia will be on display as part of the exhibition. Ophelia, is a photographic installation of freshly cut flowers already tinged with the aroma of death and decay.



“To create Ophelia, I began by photographing an enormous bouquet of roses, irises, gladioli and lilies against a dense black velvet back ground. I placed the bouquet in a horizontal position as if cut down or fallen, to embody the traditional values of femininity; beauty, vulnerability, inferiority. The bouquet is by implication a female corpse. It is Ophelia’s bouquet and, at the same time, it is the drowned Ophelia.

I then separated and photographed the individual buds, blooms and petals from the bouquet. In the darkroom I manipulated the colour to give the flowers a dark and deathly cold blue cast. To further emphasise the funereal quality of the work, I framed the photographs in heavy black frames.

 Inspired by the drowned Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet; Botticelli’s compositional strategy of compressing and scattering flowers; and the depiction of flowers floating downstream in Millais’ Ophelia; the installation Ophelia, is comprised of a large bouquet and singular buds, blooms and petals drifting and scattering across the wall, as if dispersed by the elements of water or wind.”
– Anne MacDonald

The Botanical: Beauty and Peril will be on display at the Art Gallery of Western Australia until October 7, 2019. To hear curator Melissa Harpley speak on Anne MacDonald’s Ophelia, click here.