Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Plant-Life exhibition catalogue essay by Alison Kubler

Nicola Moss, 'Hollow, but not empty'. Acrylic on canvas. 152 x 122cm. ©2010.
I visited Redland Art Gallery this morning to deliver a large papercut installation that will be shown there as part of my exhibition 'Plant-Life'. I have to say I have never been quite as excited about an exhibition as I am about this one. Walls in the gallery were being given a fresh coat of off-white paint and the feature wall at the gallery desk a soft aqua blue-green to match the colours of my exhibition invitation and catalogue! This level of professionalism and care is not one I have often encountered, making the experience all the more appreciated. I also received a bundle of printed colour catalogues that accompany the exhibition. The exhibition catalogue essay is written by Alison Kubler, who visited my studio a few weeks ago to discuss the exhibition project and works. I wondered after an hours chat, what will a writer make of the conversation and artwork? On reading Alison's opening quote I felt a sense of connection, it so captured a sentiment that inspires me to be outdoors experiencing the natural world.
'Plant-Life' opens at Redland Art Gallery, Cleveland this Sunday, 18th July at 11am and continues to Sunday 15th August. I look forward to seeing you there if you can make it.
Below are the opening paragraphs of the 'Plant-Life' exhibition essay by Alison Kubler; the full essay can be read online here.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.from Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

I recall reading Thoreau as an American literature student at the University of Queensland. The economy and straightforward quality of his prose humbled me then, as it does now. At the time I am not sure I understood the simplicity of his argument but as I age I think I am edging closer. Visiting the studio of artist Nicola Moss I was again reminded of Thoreau. Moss is a passionate environmentalist, whose practice melds something of traditional landscape painting themes with issues of contemporary relevance. Like Thoreau, her style is characterised by an elegant economy of means.

On the day I visited Moss’s studio I happened to read an article discussing author Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, which poses the theory that many contemporary urban children are suffering nature deprivation. Louv argues that many children cannot tell the difference between simple plant and animal species, that an entire generation has become enslaved to technology, and that more worryingly, children are being taught to be wary of the outdoors, for reasons ranging from the litigious to the irrational. While Louv’s argument may not be wholly original in its exhortation that humans must learn to co-exist with nature or perish, it is surely timely. We find ourselves as a society in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis on the brink of serious ecological consequences wrought by our own greed and malfeasance.


  1. Love your work Nicola, looking forward to seeing it and congratulating you in person on Sunday.

  2. Congratulations Nicola. It is very exciting, even this far away. Wish I had two weeks and infinite resources! Anyway enjoy it. Chris

  3. Really looking forward to seeing your show Nicola!
    Alison Kubler's essay opens wonderfully - sets a rich and dense tone for appreciating your work more fully. Am very keen to read the entire essay.
    This and the excellent attentiveness from the people putting on your show must be indeed heart-warming after long months of hard work. Have a wonderful opening and see you next wednesday!