Unlocking the botanical journeys leading to Port Arthur

February 2, 2015


An exhibition of botanical art now showing at the Port Arthur Historic Site illustrates the journeys of many of the plants that have grown in its gardens.

The trees and flowers in the Port Arthur gardens are bright and tangible links to the past: to the convicts who prepared the soil and planted the seeds and the men and women who treasured them as they grew 150 years ago.

As many of our ancestors took the voyage to Van Diemen’s Land, so too did hundreds of plants from all over the world – Great Britain, Europe, the Americas and Africa.
As well as providing essential food and medicine, the plants represent a gentler aspect of life at Port Arthur, one that counterbalances the harshness and brutality of daily life in an isolated colonial prison.

They reveal human stories with which we can all identify: tales of loneliness and homesickness, the desire to create a haven of beauty in an otherwise harsh and unfamiliar landscape and a driving passion to understand the natural world.

Students of Lauren Black, well known Australian botanical artist, portray the plants, their journeys and the human stories behind them in watercolour, mixed media and pencil.

Port Arthur: Exotic Garden – Unlocking the Botanical Journeys opens on Saturday 24 January 2015 at the Port Arthur Historic Site in the Asylum and will run until 6 March 2015. Access to the exhibition is included in the cost of Site entry.

One of the botanical illustrations that make up the exhibition

One of the botanical illustrations that make up the exhibition