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7 Mar 2023

Art shines light on species at risk

Australia’s loss of species and the threat to our precious biodiversity is the subject of an exciting new art exhibition – On the Edge: Species at Risk – at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney in March and April.

Volunteer curators aim to raise awareness

The exhibition is being run by passionate volunteer curators from the Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Sydney, Lucette Moore, Robbie Macintosh and Vanessa Snelling, who want to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity.

According to the 2021 State of the Environment report, biodiversity is essential to the natural environment and to human survival, wellbeing, and economic prosperity. Wildlife, forests, and natural places are important because they are critical to the balance of nature, and it is essential to leave nature healthy for future generations.

Under this theme, the volunteer curators have selected works from almost 40 emerging and established artists who are raising awareness on climate change and the present state of the Australian environment. The result is a huge cross-section of art showcasing endangered plants, birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, frogs, and insects as well as endangered ecological communities.

Lucette was a co-founder of a business in the creative industry and now brings her love of the arts and plants to the Foundation. “One of the many reasons people join Foundation and Friends is to keep learning. It’s so important for this organisation to be involved in opening people’s eyes to discover more about the natural world – and the On the Edge exhibition aims to do this,” she said.

Artist Garth Henderson has a focus on form and geometry

Eco-artists on an eye-opening mission

The artists use their works to showcase a diversity of endangered vulnerable Australian species and ecological communities.

Julianne Ross Allcorn (artwork in main image) invites the viewer to delve deep as every creature and plant is brought to life in a true study of the natural world.

Garth Henderson is a visual artist and horticulturist and for this exhibition and has focused on critically endangered banksia and myrtle from the Swan Coastal Plain in Western Australia. His philosophy is to visually dispense with the scientific and cultural ‘restrictions’ of traditional botanical studies and approach the subject matter with a focus on form and geometry.

Tasha Waller lives in Hobart and is a passionate diver and underwater photographer who has been photographing the underwater world. Her work Diminishing Forests highlights the plight of the Giant Kelp Forests in Tasmania. Her aim is to share the beauty of the ocean through her underwater images and drawings to those who do not get to venture below.

Tasha Waller‘s artwork Diminishing Forests highlights the dangers to giant kelp

Delving deep and feeling the power of nature

Vanessa is using the knowledge she gained from undertaking a Masters of Museum Studies to help bring this exhibition together. The endangered species and ecological communities researched and selected by the artists has heightened her own awareness of the extinction crisis and of strategies being used to try to reverse the trend.

“I recently went on a hike along the coast of south-eastern Tasmania. I was much more engaged with the discussion about the startling decline in the Giant Kelp Marine Forests and the re-seeding project, because of what I had already learnt about this issue through our artists,” Vanessa said.

Robbie who has been a volunteer curator for over 23 years said she has always been impressed by the artists’ commitment to exhibitions.  This project has been particularly exciting as the eco-artists involved are dedicated to heightening awareness of the present environmental crisis.

“It’s so important for this organisation to be involved in opening people’s eyes to discover more about the natural world.” said Lucette Moore.    

Curators Lucettte Moore, Robbie Macintosh and Vanessa Snelling at the On the Edge: Species at Risk art exhibition.

Edgy classes and events

On the Edge: Species at Risk will open on the evening of March 17, as a ticketed event. From March 18 until April 2 it will be open to the public for free at Lion Gate Lodge from 10am-4pm from. All artwork will be for sale and a variety of events, classes and demonstrations will also be on offer.

Join the On the Edge Expert Panel and learn about the complex issues of climate change, habitat loss and species decline, facilitated by Costa Georgiadis from Gardening Australia Thursday 23 March, 3pm - 4pm. Dr Brett Summerell, Dr Elspeth McLennan and Professor Maria Byrne will all present their latest work and look at how science is helping to solve some of our most challenging issues around species loss. Book here

Other events include:

• A 90-minute walking tour of the Royal Botanic Garden's rare and endangered plants (Sat 18 March) Book here

• A small-group tour of the exhibition led by one of our three curators (Wed 22, Mon 27 and Fri 31 March) Book here

• A lesson from artist Nichola Bryan on how to create a striking sustainable bird assemblage with upcycled garden plastics (Sat 25 March) Book here

For more information call 02 9231 8182

The Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens has an opening for a volunteer curator to join the team for upcoming exhibition in 2023 and 2024. For more details, please contact

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