2020 Pteridomania

Russell Falls Tasmania. Painted during January 2020 while fire ripped through the country.

As whole ecosystems burn, will the landscapes we once previously enjoyed so freely become rare and unusual? Could the pockets of remaining natural splendor take on a coveted and prized status? Would these pristine specimens of our fertile past become walled in and caged off, protected from disease and pests for posterity?

The possible elevation of select elements of the natural environment presents an intriguing mirroring of the fern craze (Pteridomania) of the Victorian era.

With their purpose designed grottos, cathedral like glasshouses and intricate portable Wardian Case’s the Victorians successfully transposed what was once a simple and quietly beautiful fern into something that was protected, cultivated and elevated to cult like status.

The direction of this painting changed in light of the overwhelming sadness and horror felt during the bushfires. Here, a shining example of 2020 Pteridomania, these primeval ferns sit quietly in their natural landscape, enshrined in a modern day Wardian Case, with the hopes that this jewel of natural splendor does not become overtly coveted in the future- simply because it became so rare.

Laura Patterson

2020, Children's Choice, Highly Commended

Oil paint on canvas