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Entwined: Plants and People

This State Library of Queensland exhibition explores humanity's fascination with flowers and plants.
By Sarah Ward
July 27, 2021
By Sarah Ward
July 27, 2021

Whether you're picnicking on your nearest patch of grass, filling your house with greenery every chance you get, or building everlasting bouquets out of Lego, there's always something soothing about plants and flowers. Perhaps it's the fact that, if they're not made out of plastic, their beauty only blooms for a limited time. Perhaps it's just that they're calming to look at — or, that being in their presence is one of the easiest ways to feel connected to nature.

Even merely peering at images of plants can be relaxing — as the State Library of Queensland's Entwined: Plants and People exhibition well knows. On display until Sunday, November 14, it ponders the link that humans have always had with the flora around us. In fact, it's filled with photography, illustrations, projections and historical objects that demonstrate that very bond.

Some of the items on display date back centuries. Botanist Joseph Banks, who used to be featured on Australia's old $5 note, had engravers create 738 copperplates of his drawings of the plants that Captain Cook collected on the HMS Endeavour, for instance — and, as printed more than 200 years after Banks' death, a copy of those prints is held by SLQ.

The library's dig into its own collection also includes nods to orchid fever in the 1800s; traditional weaving, fibre art and contemporary fashion items; and rare photos. And, you can expect to see vivid arrays that span far beyond your usual pictures of flowers, too.

Quantum metamorphosis of a glory vine, 2021. Courtesy: Man&Wah

Top image: Micro-x-ray fluorescence images showing the concentration of selenium in a native Queensland legume. Courtesy: University of Queensland.

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