I’m an assemblage artist and a caretaker of over 800 acres of woodlands, heathlands and wetlands on the wild south coast of Kangaroo Island, South Australia. It’s a precious swathe of ecological antiquity, where thousands of species have coevolved for millennia and developed highly complex relationships.
My art practice sprang from the study of the plants on the property. I use the traditional preservation techniques of museums and herbariums to distil and draw attention to the details that I find in the landscape. I collect, identify, press, dry, sort and assemble materials, and glue and then stitch them to canvas. The completed works are framed behind glass.
Some pieces remind me of the kinds of things we see through telescopes or microscopes; others reference the grids of scientific vegetation surveys but are also reminiscent of domestic patchwork quilts – expressions of intimate devotion to home.
The artworks reflect my evolving personal love affair with the landscape – my endless joy, fascination and utmost respect; but also my concern, sorrow and fierce protectiveness for this unique place. Yet, I hope they resonate in a universal language: that I’ve created windows on the natural world, which ignite a sense of wonder, invite sustained contemplation and inspire conservation.
My artwork is held in public collections (The Australian War Memorial and The Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery) and private collections around Australia. More than 80 works have been welcomed into homes in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, America, Canada, France, China, Switzerland, Thailand, Germany, Portugal, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Puerto Rico, Dubai and Japan.
I’m an Accredited Member of Guildhouse; an Authentic Kangaroo Island Arts Ambassador; Secretary of the Art Museum of Kangaroo Island Establishment Association Inc; member of the Kangaroo Island Conservation Landowners Association Inc; shareholder of Bushland Conservation Pty Ltd; Secretary of the Friends of Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park and; member of the Friends of Dudley Peninsula Parks.
Kangaroo Island, where I live and work, is a deeply sacred place for the Kaurna, Ngarrindjeri, Raminjeri and Nurrungah First Nations people. I acknowledge their ongoing connection to the island, which I understand to be the pathway to their ancestors in the Milk Way. When I see stone artefacts resting in the landscape I think of past Elders, whose knowledge of this landscape would have been intricate and profound; I relish learning from today’s Elders and look forward to connecting with the Elders of the future.
© Janine Mackintosh, All Rights Reserved 2021