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Dialogues with Landscape 

Launch of UWA centenary celebration and Perth Festival

By Nien Schwarz

Title of work: Radicle (L. radix, root)

Like many people I am grateful for invitations to come and experience the research of UWA staff, students, and visiting scholars, and, for me particularly, pertaining to art, Earth science, politics, anthropology and ecology. George Seddon’s book Sense of place and Stephen Hopper’s research into Western Australia’s Gondwana biodiversity hotspots have been particularly inspiring. 


Radicle is a multivalent mapping project consisting of 100 sleeping bags and tents rolled to create soft sculptural planters installed on the university’s Great Lawn. Each planter or vessel supports the growth of a native plant, if possible indigenous to the Swan River Coastal Plain. The young plants are in part selected based on mature specimens on the campus grounds and other UWA precincts. Collectively the plants form a temporary arboretum and annexe to Reid Library. On each plant, a blue strip of flagging tape identifies the genus and common name, on yellow flagging tape, the title of a journal article or book pertaining to landscape and written by a UWA staff member or student, or published by UWA Press. Links will be established between a key word in the publication title and the name of the plant. 


The material, formal, conceptual, and interactive prompts of Radicle are designed to provoke consideration of historical and contemporary relationship to Western Australia flora, while simultaneously complementing the University’s centenary, its heritage listed gardens, and research publications by staff, students, and visiting scholars. The sleeping bags would be arranged in clusters according to colour that in turn identify a faculty and associated degree colour (yellow, pink, red, etc). 


Radicle builds on my longstanding geographical, material, and conceptual dialogue with land use practices. Many of my sculptural works have been realised with the participation of individual Earth and biological scientists, or supported by research institutions, such as UWA. 

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