Wildflower Art Against Consumerism

On #BuyNothingDay, we caught up with British artist Tracey Bush, whose work explores the fragility of native wild plants and flowers in an increasingly consumerist world… 

Meadow Buttercup, Tracey Bush, herbarium sheet with drawing and paper packaging 2015

How many British wild plant species could you confidently recognise? Fewer than 20? Fewer than 10? British artist Tracey Bush asked exactly that while researching her solo project ‘Nine Wild Plants’. 

This unique series of botanical artworks combines delicate ink drawings with fragments of packaging found on London streets. The works, which include the stinging nettle, buttercup and poppy, challenge our diminished awareness of native wild plants and flowers in the face of big brand consumerism.

We invited Tracey to tell us more about the inspiration behind her work and her plans for the future:

How do you research your artworks?

My work often deals with the impact that humans have on the environment. Initially I developed a project which was inspired by the ecological thinker Paul Hawken, who noted that the average Western adult can recognise over one thousand brand names or logos, but fewer than 10 indigenous wild plants. 

I collected plants to use as models in my home made herbarium. This formed the basis of my project ‘nine wild plants’ where I recreated nine ‘most recognised’ wild plants using paper packaging showing hundreds of brands and logos. 

All the packaging is genuinely discarded, I hope to highlight our diminishing encounters with indigenous flora whilst considering the growing excess of consumerism. 

Field poppy, Tracey Bush, 3D paper sculpture, 2006

What inspires you? 

My favourite drawing is ‘The Great Piece of Turf’ (1503), by Albrecht DÏ‹rer. It represents a clump of unremarkable wild plants, often called ‘weeds’. However, when you look closely at any plant, you discover that it is totally unique, like people!

I am also interested in the Victorian interest in collecting and presenting the Natural World, though in my case, I utilise that which is discarded to construct an artificial kingdom.

What’s next?

Most recently I have created a small Chalk Hill, which is a clump of calcareous flora and fauna installed under an antique glass dome in the Winchester city museum. I recreated a Stemless Thistle, Bulbous buttercup and Chalk hill Blue Butterfly. I hoped to capture a warm day at the top of St Catherine’s Hill, Hampshire, using branded paper and card. 

Chalk Hill, Tracey Bush, paper sculpture 2015

Tracey exhibits at a number of galleries including Jagged Art, Flow Gallery and Eagle Gallery (Emma Hill) in London. The Grow Wild team are eagerly awaiting her next solo exhibition, ‘Landfill’. 

Think you know your wild flowers? Click here to take our wild flower survey!

Add comment