It is with the spirit of discovery we view the sculptures by Caroline Rothwell in Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery's latest Viewing Room Arrangements, embodying the weird and wonderful through the mindset of exploration and detailed research into botanical history.
Rothwell's work is the meeting point of the artificial and natural, the historical and contemporary. She holds space for the most beautiful of objects, hybrid species that challenge us to question past narratives and seek new positions of enquiry. At first glance, they are contemporary manifestations of exquisite botanical specimens, perhaps once immaculately rendered as drawings. On closer look, uncomfortable and disconcerting juxtapositions emerge: glossy tongues entwine biomorphic beings; industrial metal pipes meet floral beauties;QR codes are delicately held like prized, rare fauna in a bejewelled hand.
Human biophilic tendencies to seek awe and serenity in nature, to connect with and within the sublime natural world, are captured by Rothwell and jauntily arranged in an imaginary archive of exotic species, hybrids from other planets that are a futuristic, cross-fertilisation of the organic and the technological.
Recalling arranging practices within early cabinets of curiosities and the collecting systems of naturalists Charles Darwin, Joseph Banks and Nikolai Vavilov, a new taxonomy is fertilised. Set in a vivid and extraordinary 19th century tropical-hot-house, Rothwell's bizarre botanical theatre is composed like the most exquisitely arranged bouquet, challenging us to consider the interrelationship of the human and the natural through the thwarted lens of trade, collection and colonisation.
Press release courtesy Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.