Lorraine Biggs, Penny Burnett, Maggie Jeffries and Ochre Lawson

26 June – 21 July 2019

Opening Wednesday 26 June 5.30pm

Join Penny Burnett and Ochre Lawson for an Artist Talk and Q&A Saturday 29 June at 11am at Despard Gallery!


Despard is proud to present Botanica, a group exhibition that brings together a diverse group of women artists, each exploring the magic and intrigue of the botanical world.

Lorraine Biggs

Lorraine investigates the botanical from a taxonomic perspective, focusing on plants as curious single object specimens.  Her paintings explore the fragile biodiversity of Cradle Mountain National Park, including threats of global warming and wildfire.  

For Botanica Lorraine has focused on plant specimens as singular objects of wonder. After an immersion in the highland rainforests of the West coast she has selected a few favourite plants like the Pandanus (Richea pandanifolia) and tree ferns (Dicksonia Antarctica), mosses and bracken.  A small forest of Pandanus, including some in flower, make up the main body of this work. These paintings build on her explorations of the biodiversity of the area around Cradle Mountain National Park where she has spent time on an Arts Tasmania residence. Much of it threatened by global warming and wildfire which makes it even more precious.

Penny Burnett

Penny considers her work a personal collection of Botanica moments, capturing a curiosity to see beyond nature’s hidden powers.  These are not limited by site, but a reflection on various unexpected experiences, both at home and abroad.  

“I see Botanica as more of a desire than an object, something deeply related to the alchemy of plants with a desire to glimpse the hidden power of nature.” – Penny Burnett

Artist Notes

“This body of work is a personal collection some Botanicamoments.  Momentsthathappened on the tiny island of Jeju, South Korea,and other moments that occurcloser to home, likemy dailyheadlandwalkat Dodges Ferry.  TheseBotanicamoments are not limited by site, some arecultivated gardensyetothersarewild and indigenous gardens. Common to each moment is they were all unexpected, all captured my curiosity to see beyond to nature’s hidden powers.”

Botanica 2 – Seolmundae 500 Sons 2019
Oil on Japanese maple, 36.5 x 30 cm
Site: Jeju Stone Park

Seolmundae Halmang had 500 sons and one day, while all her sons were out hunting, she accidentally fell into a gigantic pot of soup she was making to feed her family. When the sons returned home, they hurriedly ate the soup, not knowing what had happened to their mother. Upon realising they had eaten her, they cried bitter tears of grief and were petrified into rock. Their blood and tears imbues the deep red of the blooming royal azaleas every spring.

Botanica 4 (Mt Halla’s tattered skirt2019
Oil on Japanese maple, 36.5 x 30 cm
Site: Walls of Mt Halla, Jeju

Once upon a time there lived Seolmundae Halmang, a huge creation goddess of unimaginable strength. This mystical grandmother shovelled huge mounds of earth and in only seven tosses of her shovel created Mt. Halla. Jeju’s 368 oreum were formed with the dirt that fell through her tattered skirt.

Jeju Artist Exchange facilitated by Arts Tasmania, The Jeju Foundation for the Arts, The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Australia Korea Foundation.


Maggie Jeffries

Maggie explores the intricate connection between human and nature, including how plants often hold symbolic importance.  Through her work, Maggie considers these connections, including a link to identity and personal narrative.  

When considering the theme of this exhibition, ‘Botanica’ has allowed me as a artist to explore the intricate relationships between humans and plants, and the way imagery of plants can hold significant symbols. It has been an important part of my art practice for a few years now and I am constantly looking for these connections in my work. In my paintings, recreating imagery of these plants has enabled me to explore parts of my identity and where I come from as well as narratives that affect me personally.” – Maggie Jeffries 

Artist notes 

“The Blue Gum painting is made up of a series of collaged photographs of the epicormic shoots emerging on the trunks of blue gums as a result of a recent bush fire. The Rhododendrons were photographed in autumn and collaged together to create the final composition to show the deterioration of deciduous plants approaching winter . The blue gum signifies the start of new life and rejuvenation while the rhododendron illustrates the passing of life in order to start again. Together these images suggest each plants life cycle but more broadly the sense of beauty that comes with change. ”

Ochre Lawson

Ochre uses paint to explore her personal relationship to the landscape. This includes interpreting the diversity and uniqueness of Australia’s wilderness areas, in all its immensity and awesome complexity. 

My interest as an artist is to depict the wilderness landscape in all its immensity and my relationship to it through an emotional and observed response.Firstly working en plein air, then back in the studio from sketches and memory of place I attempt to represent the diversity and awesome quality of our unique wilderness areas.” – Ochre Lawson 


Gallery views…