Re-Collect: Lyndall Phelps

This exhibition explores the recurring themes of collecting, nature and history which dominate Phelps’ art practice.

Lyndall phelps_Re-collect exhibition

Collecting, nature and history are recurring themes within Phelps’ art practice. She is interested in unearthing less visible material from the past and re-presenting it through narrative driven installations. ‘Re-collect’ explores two key areas, firstly the little-known achievements of women in the collecting of botanical specimens in nineteenth century Australian, and secondly, the beauty, fragility 
and vulnerability of the natural world.

During the second half of the eighteen hundreds, an extensive network of collectors posted plant specimens to Ferdinand von Mueller, for Australia’s first herbarium, the National Herbarium of Victoria, which he established in 1853. The overwhelming majority of these collectors were amateur. Two hundred and twenty-five women have been identified, many of whom were early settlers in isolated areas of Australia. For ‘Re-collect’, Phelps has focused on the fifty-one women who collected type specimens throughout Australia, and the fifty women who collected in New South Wales, including seven from northern New South Wales.

Phelps regularly undertakes multiple roles within her art practice: researcher, historian, collector, curator, collaborator, re-enactor and maker; these are all evident in ‘Re-collect’. Her starting point was to examine over five thousand botanical specimen records on the Australasian Virtual Herbarium website. This research has resulted in an installation comprising drawings, embroideries, photographs, and botanical specimens. The visual style of the work is influenced by the aesthetics of natural history collections and women’s craft in the Victorian era. 

The artist would like to acknowledge the generous support of the following: Peter Mouatt and Heidi Lunn at the Southern Cross University Medicinal Plant Herbarium, Peter Gould and Damian Butler at the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens, Enid Taylor, the National Herbarium of Victoria, and the Australasian Native Orchid Society, Far North Coast Group.

On view in the Courtyard Gallery from 29 October - 11 December 2022 

A Lismore Regional Gallery exhibition in partnership with Grafton Regional Galler

Image credits:
Re-Collect, embroidery thread on perforated card, (detail)Courtesy of the Artist.
Homepage tile: Re-Collect, (detail). Courtesy of the Artist.
Slider: Re-Collect, (detail). Courtesy of the Artist.

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