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Ghost Flowers and Zombie Plants

Ghost Flowers and Zombie Plants

Mark Hislop
28 March 2020 - 15 April 2020

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The paintings in Mark Hislop's new series, Ghost Flowers and Zombie Plants, are created on large acrylic sheets. Using delicate washes of colour, botanical forms evolve with stunning clarity and brilliance. Viewed through the acrylic’s surface, vines, branches and leaves trail across the painting forming intricate and detailed compositions as if they were botanical specimens or the subjects of a contemplative gaze in an evocative existential space.

Hislop’s process of applying paint to the rear of the acrylic sheets has its tradition in European glass painting from the middle of the 18th century (verre églomisé) and is renowned in Bavarian folk art and in the 20th century through the work of American modernist, Marsden Hartley.

Hislop’s long-term interest in analogue photography is combined with a journalistic documentation of his daily walks to his inner-city Melbourne studio.  Pippa Milne, Senior Curator at Monash Gallery of Art, observes, “The process of walking is often practical, getting one from A to B, but it is also in-between time in the most literal and also metaphorical way… The practical habit of getting from home to the studio has become intimately involved in the making of the artwork.”

The title Ghost Flowers and Zombie Plants is a reference to the long-held practice of storing seeds for future germination. The tombs and sarcophagi of ancient Egyptians were packed with wheat seeds for the afterlife and the natural world has rare examples of seeds remaining dormant for many years whilst retaining the ability to germinate. From the 2000 year old Judean date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) to the Chinese sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) carbon dated to be 1300 years old to the indestructible Ginkgo biloba trees of Japan, the natural world has shown remarkable examples of survival.

Mark Hislop completed a Master of Art at Chelsea School of Art and Design, London, as a recipient of a Samstag International Visual Art Scholarship. He has been awarded grants from the Australia Council for the Arts and was awarded the Helsinki Studio Residency in 2015/16.  His work has been selected for the Rick Amor Drawing Prize, Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize, Paul Guest Prize, Dobell Prize for Drawing, and, more recently, Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award and the National Works on Paper Award (2017, 2019).