11 August - 7 October 2001

Nancy Adams, Catherine Bagnall, Kathy Barry, Ross Blackner, Nigel Brown, Lillian Budd, Audrey Eagle, Graham Fletcher, Tim Galloway, Simryn Gill, Niki Hastings-McFall, Christine Hellyar, J. Bruce Irwin, Megan Jenkinson, Maureen Lander, Christopher Langton, Colin McCahon, T.A McCormack, Tim Maguire, Bill Malcolm, Karl Maughan, Anne Noble, B. Parker, Sydney Parkinson, Tania Patterson, Peter Peryer, Ann Robinson, Willa Rogers, Michael Shepherd, Robyn Stacey, Margaret Stones, Kelly Thompson, Keith West, Boyd Webb and Sue Williams.

Botanica was an innovative and large scale project focusing on the breadth of creative engagement with plant life, curated by Adam Art Gallery Director, Zara Stanhope and realised by the support of the Sustaining Members of the Adam Art Gallery.

Botanica surveyed our extensive efforts to know, document and wonder at the natural (and not so ‘natural’) plant world. From specimens dating to early European contact with New Zealand botany and illustrations for voyage publications to drawings and watercolours by contemporary botanical specialists, Botanica illustrates that curiosity about and thirst for botanical knowledge and representation is not yet satisfied.

In Botanica, paintings from the seventeenth century onwards indicate the varied connotations which botany has provided for the visual artist. Emblematic ‘flower paintings’, appreciative of beauty and the associative potential of the floral, represent only one approach of many. Flowers, symbolic of feminine passions or evoking personal emotions, also reflect national histories and hybrid narratives, and celebrate or critique cultural stereotypes. Photography both documents real vegetation and refreshes the viewer’s experience of the botanical world around us. Fantasy and fact led the visitor to think about how we represent and understand, and therefore appreciate, the natural environment.


Botanica was accompanied by a catalogue which extrapolated on the artists’ works and the concerns raised by the exhibition. Essays by Rod Barnett, Judy Dyson, Catherine Field-Dodgson, Professor Philip Garnock Jones and Phillipa Scott. Supported by the Adam Art Gallery Friends programme. Available for purchase here