The Planthunter – Imperfection is Perfection

November 16, 2014

A lovely piece on Emma's work by The Planthunter in Australia.

View the story here......

Imperfection is Perfection

 Words by Georgina Reid

Emma Bass is an artist based in Auckland, New Zealand. Her current series, called Imperfect, muses on the temporality of life. Emma collects plants locally, from friends gardens and roadsides, and places them in vintage vases collected obsessively over many years.

She photographs the works in her home, in natural light. The images are achingly beautiful, subtly hinting at the beauty found within decay. For Emma, the series is all about celebrating the beauty in imperfection and acknowledging the inevitable passing of life.

I would write more about this series but I have just read writer David Lyndon Brown’s review of Emma’s work on her website and my words pale in comparison. This is what he said:

"Historically, when we encounter flowers in an art setting the response is highly prescribed. How beautiful, we sigh. It is as though we are primed for beauty and our reaction is virtually automatic. Bass has subverted that tradition. For all intents and purposes these artfully lit, poised, formal, floral compositions are exactly that – but look closer – the flowers here are starting to wilt, discolour, petals are withering, dropping, leaves are curling at the edges – these bouquets are infected with mortality."

"We need to do a double take, to re-evaluate. Despite a preconception of beauty, we are suddenly confronted with temporality, imperfection and, yes, death. And don’t forget, flowers are the sexual organs of plants. When we look at a floral still-life we are in fact looking at a flagrant exhibition of genitalia. This consideration makes the thought of degeneration all the more poignant." 

In an era of glossy finishes, air-brushing and Photoshop the least imperfection is considered scandalous. Fruit, vegetables and flowers are expected to be immaculate, taste or perfume notwithstanding. But surely the beauty of these living objects lies in their transience – the fact that they will fade adds to their attractiveness.

As Leonard Cohen sings in Anthem: ‘There is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in’; as Persian weavers wove in flaws because it would be arrogant for mortals to aspire to perfection; so Emma Bass, by deftly subverting an ancient tradition, reminds us that we are human. 

David Lyndon Brown, April 2012

 

The Planthunter is an online magazine devoted to celebrating plants and the varied ways humans interact with them. Plants have been inspiring, feeding, sustaining and soothing humans for aeons. The Planthunter documents and celebrates these connections.

Exploring the world outside our houses, offices, and heads, The Planthunter highlights the ties that bind us to our leafy friends in an authentic, unexpected, and creative manner. It gently coerces people to reconnect with plants.

Sharing stories of humans and their love of plants is one step towards this rather lofty goal. Celebrating the beauty and diversity of plant world is another, as is empowering people to grow and understand plants. Drawing connections between art, philosophy, food, culture, and plants is yet another. You see, once you start looking, plants and humans are inextricably linked. In fact, if plants don’t exist, humans don’t exist. It’s as simple as that.

There are plenty of websites about plants, yet there is no other website like The Planthunter. It weaves a rich story of connection and respect between humans, culture, plants and environment. It draws equally from culture and horticulture, from art and science, from beauty and botany. It is engaging, authentic and celebratory. Come hunting with us!