|Bridie Smith's article in yesterday's papers.|
Yesterday was very exciting for me, because I could finally "come clean" about what I had been doing during the final months of my arts residency at the National Museum of Australia, supported by the Australia Council. Those of you who have been following my residency and blog may have wondered why suddenly all went quiet....!
The above article, written by Fairfax journalist Bridie Smith, featured in The Age, The Canberra Times and the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, reveals that I had found the identity of the collector of the anonymous "Port Phillip Album" of 19th century pressed seaweeds, collected predominantly in the Port Phillip Bay area of Melbourne between 1859 and 1882. The full article can be read here http://www.theage.com.au/technology/sci-tech/flowers-of-the-sea-20170327-gv7wum.html.
Not only did I discover that the album was made by an elusive and little known collector, Charles Morrison, but that there were also 6-10 other albums by him in other institutional collections throughout NSW and Victoria. This was a great coup not only for the NMA, who now have provenance for their album, but also for me as an artist in residence working within a museum, and researching historical collections, which is where I realise my passion lies. Although that is quite obvious to many who follow my work and exhibitions that usually inspired by botanical collectors, scientists and objects with social and cultural history. I feel it is also a great validation for all of us who work as artists in residence within scientific or cultural institutions - many people still do not understand what real benefits an artist can bring to the institution, scientist or researcher, and we are often seen as merely capable of delivering decorative outcomes that do not impact upon the serious work done by the institution.
I am now in the process of writing an academic paper for publication and inspired to keep researching these and other collections from the 19th century, so stay tuned!