Flora: Exploration to Extinction is an immersive installation that reevaluates our relationship to the natural world. A collaged landscape of flora displays an ecological utopia of abundance, interrupted by silhouettes of extinct and endangered species. I designed the work as a site-specific installation for a 20 ft (6 m) corridor at a hotel in South Kensingon, London; commission by Vestalia Chilton, curator of Attollo Art & art director of the Exhibitionist Hotel. Flora was introduced during Frieze London 2018; the installation will be on display for several years, and is open to the public.
Each of the black silhouettes represents a species of extinct or endangered flora, and are accompanied by an information panel including the plant name, native ecology, and ecological pressures. I chose black silhouettes as a visual cue for absence in the landscape, and as a reference to Victorian portraiture and nineteenth century plant exploration, a period during which species traveled the globe and luxurious images of flora were fetishized.
The black silhouettes are highlighted by gilt frames, emphasizing the portrait presentation and nostalgia for the nineteenth century adoration of flora, and perceived ecological abundance. Dried seed heads and leaves, spray painted gold, are wound around the frames, plunging from the walls as preserved relics and invitations to engage.