The series consists of six works depicting delicate yet vivid representations of plants and their intimate flower parts.
All the artists in ‘Plant + Human’ approach their vegetal subjects with intensity, to explore human entanglements with plant ecology.
Canberrian visual artist Seccombe, who is also a lecturer at the ANU School of Art & Design, completed the images during a 2018 residency at Baldessin Press & Studio, after being awarded a small project fund by artsACT to learn the photopolymer photogravure technique.
Photogravure is an image produced from a photographic negative transferred to a metal plate and etched in.
The etching part is known as intaglio, an age-old print making process which, according to Seccombe, provides the deepest blacks.
“There’s a real richness to the prints,” Seccombe said.
The name intaglio is Italian, derived from the word intagliare, meaning to engrave, cut or incise, from the Medieval Latin intaliare.
During her residency, Seccombe worked with renowned artist Silvi Glattauer to learn and practice the photogravure-intaglio process.
“Silvi has perfected photopolymer photogravure using industrial plates and direct-to-plate inkjet printing,” Seccombe said.
“The plates are then exposed with UV light and etched with water.
“I thought I knew everything about grey scale in Photoshop until Silvi showed me how to do it better!
“I haven't really used intaglio processes since I left my undergraduate degree at Sydney College of the Arts, so it was also fantastic to get back into the press studio.
“It made me remember why I had been drawn to printmaking in the first place.”
Seccombe said that she initially began experimenting with simple plant images which had been shot on her phone.
She then used apps such as Instagram to play around with different effects, which were later transformed into more complex images using Photoshop.
Each image has been “imperceptibly manipulated” with repetitions or anthropomorphic additions to make it “not quite what it seems”.
The resulting images are sensual and seemingly alien organisms.
“Through my practice I have been responding to how natural forms are represented through a subjective experience of it,” Seccombe said, in a statement.
“Each work becomes a form of life that exists beyond its original meaning.”
The titles of each work are drawn from the ceremonial traditions of Ikebana, evoking intimate intersections between humans and plants.
“The plants become symbolic,” Seccombe affirmed.
Indeed, ‘Purity in Form’ seems like a breath of fresh air, while the open mouths of the flowers in ‘Safe Return’ resemble little houses, beckoning with security and cosiness.
The interrelationship between humans and plants is the theme of the exhibition as a whole, which also includes works by Steven Cavanagh, Liss Fenwick, Phillip George and more.
When asked on how she thinks humans tend to relate to nature, Seccombe responded: “I think we’re not quite sure how to relate to plants.”
“They’ve always been seen as at the bottom of the hierarchical pile that we see ourselves on top of,” she added.
“But I think that plants are manipulative.
“They’ve captured us, they’ve hypnotised us... everything we use is made from plants.”
Seccombe emphasised that while humans like to think that we’re in control, we rely almost entirely on plants, even for the air we breathe.
‘Permutations’ (2018) is currently on display at ACP Project Space Gallery in Darlinghurst, as part of the exhibition ‘Plant + Human’, until April 27.
Check out the ACP website for more details.