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Garden for Wildlife, Peter (Wights Mountain), Renata Buziak 2015

Habitat: Artworks and Stories of Pine Rivers Gardens, an exhibition by Renata Buziak and Lynette Letic

Review by Gordon Craig

4 June – 18 July 2015, Pine Rivers Art Gallery

In their recent exhibition, Renata Buziak and Lynette Letic created a unique collaboration, working both with each other and also a group of people from the Moreton Bay region who are passionate about their gardens. Over a two-year period, the artists met with various locals whose homes are scattered across northern suburbs of greater Brisbane. They shared stories about what was special to them about their gardens and the enjoyment they received from their efforts at horticulture.

Renata Buziak 2015

Food and Inspiration, Wendy (Samford), Renata Buziak 2015

Many of our readers may well be familiar with Buziak’s biochromes. It is a term she has embraced to describe a unique, organic and cameraless photographic process that she developed over the past decade or so. Buziak has explored and experimented with the effect of natural items such as soil and plant material interacting with the silver gelatin layer of colour photographic paper. The microbes inherent in such materials interact and breakdown the colour layers, producing Buziak’s unique images over a period of several weeks. Each sheet of paper is sealed in a bag as nature works its magic – Buziak has proclaimed that she collaborates with microbes.[1] The resulting images are then scanned and printed in editions, often on a much larger scale.

For the artworks in Habitat, Buziak collected material from each of the gardens to produce images that directly relate to each property but hold little resemblance to each place. At the same time Letic, a documentary photographer, took photos of the gardens, homes and often the people themselves in their gardens. For each garden, Buziak exhibited one large image, beside which sat three of Letic’s photographs. Accompanying the images were quite poetic quotes from the gardeners, and the titles of the images were drawn from snippets of the quotes.

Beth, Lynette Letic 2015

Beth, Lynette Letic 2015

The passions of each of the participants were evident throughout the exhibition. I was lucky enough to witness one dedicated gardener Peter Storer’s presentation on the development of his property from essentially cleared land to a vibrant, densely populated garden which includes 650 native species and up to 10,000 plants.[2] He is clearly proud of his achievements over several years, witnessing the return of countless native animals including insects, amphibians and reptiles, birds and mammals. Storer has a bird-hide in which he spends many hours patiently waiting and photographing the animals on his property. He also talked about the knock-on effect his garden is having with his neighbours, who were also benefitting from his endeavours and often following suit on their own properties. It was inspirational to hear and see what one person has managed to achieve on a few hectares at Wights Mountain, near Samford.

On the final weekend of the exhibition Storer, Buziak and Letic made presentations on their work and discussed their collaborative journey. The artists also walked visitors through the exhibition, and several of the other gardeners talked about their gardens and their involvement. The audience members were hanging on each word throughout the morning, with numerous questions and comments. As Stephen Hobson wrote in the exhibition catalogue, ‘It’s hard to summarise, but what we see in these photographic works is as varied as what we might feel in a garden and vice versa. Furthermore, a garden is always a work in progress, and the photographs of Renata and Lynette in this exhibition are also a kind of ‘work in progress’, since their practice is ongoing.’ He went on to write, ‘Artists plant imaginal seeds, and surely gardeners are artists by a different name. So who knows where the boundaries of this project lie?’[3] To me, Habitat has shown that through collaboration and community involvement, boundaries are blurred and even broken down, for the benefit of all involved.

[1] Renata Buziak, artist talk at Pine Rivers Art Gallery, 17 July 2015.

[2] Habitat exhibition catalogue, p.22.

[3] Stephen Hobson, ‘Presence and Boundaries in the Garden’, Habitat exhibition catalogue, p.3.

For news, updates and more information on the project, please visit the Habitat blog.

Renata Buziak, born in Poland, moved to Australia in 1991. In 2006, Renata completed her Bachelor of Photography with First Class Honours at the Queensland College of Art (QCA), Griffith University, Brisbane, where she is currently undertaking her doctoral studies. She is also a Board Member of the QCP. For more information on Renata Buziak please visit her website.

Lynette Letic is an emerging photographer based in Brisbane, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Photography majoring in Photojournalism from the Queensland College of Art and is currently completing her Honours year. Her work can be found on her website.

Gordon Craig is an artist, writer and curator based in Brisbane. He is currently the Project Manager at The University of Queensland Art Museum and Chair of the Queensland Centre for Photography Board, as well as a member of the Print Council of Australia Committee.

Banner image: Garden for Wildlife, Peter (Wights Mountain), Renata Buziak 2015

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