My name is Simone Scandrett and I am an emerging artist from Melbourne, Australia who makes work thematically focused on nature and the human relationship to our environment. I am currently studying plant science at university which lends heavily to my practise. I created this ephemeral installation titled ‘Melon Gods and Flower Spirits’ in my backyard during my time in isolation.
Isolation has been a time of introspection for many, and for myself a time of discovering spirituality. It is a wonder that despite public gatherings being banned, public parks and nature reserves are more populous than ever. This line of thinking has led me to gradually develop a spirituality about nature. Feeling the restorative effects of going outside to be surrounded by grass and trees, I believe there is a reason for our yearning as humans to be in natural surrounds, and a mystical energy that connects all living things.
I created my installation to be a shrine to nature, inspired by paganism and ancient religious ritual.
The various motifs symbolise components of the plant life cycle and reproduction. Dying leaves, fruit,
plants gone to flower, seeds and plant reproductive structures collected from my garden and the local
neighbourhood. The ephemerality of the install also contributes to this lifecycle, gradually rotting
back into the earth.
I installed my works in and around a nectarine tree in my backyard, which is currently in a state of renewal, having lost all its leaves going into winter. I created large tendrils of vegetation with various seedpods, branches clad with fruit, leaves and flower inflorescences, bound together with coloured cotton to loosely reference smudge sticks, hung from the bare branches of the tree. I sewed plush totems of flowers and a fern gametophyte (a fern baby that lives in the soil) from hand dyed fabric, hung amongst the branches of the tree as a form of religious iconography. The fern gametophyte is sewn with jade crystals down its front to represent the presence of gamete-forming organs. Jade crystals are meant to bring emotional healing and protection, for which I felt were pertinent to the overall effect of plants and being around nature.
I cut melons and other seed-bearing fruit into heart shapes and strung them from the branches of the tree. My intention behind this developed as I installed it. I wished to signify seed dispersal, and the evolution of fruit as a means of enticing animals to feed on them and move the seed to other locations, referencing the biblical story of Eve and her apple. During the photographic process I went inside briefly and returned to find a possum sitting in the tree feeding on one of my cut honeydew-hearts, ingesting its seeds. This I felt contributed to the cycle I was trying to convey in my installation, so I photographed and included the half-eaten fruit in my images.
I wanted to create a mystical energy to the aesthetics of the installation and to achieve this I photographed my installation at dawn. The purples and pinks of the sky and the continuously changing light gives the photographs a dark, witchy feel which I was very excited by. This time of day is conceptually significant as well, as dawn is the time that plants open their pores to respire, and to begin photosynthesising again.
I employed a very basic science experiment to my installation, placing white pansies in a solution of blue food dye and sugar. This caused the pansies to draw up the food dye, making it possible to see which parts of the flower the water is taken to before it is used in respiration, forming patterns on the petals in blue.
This shrine is to celebrate the gentle force that quietly gives us life.