Traffic lights are the last place you would expect to find a nature lover hunting for plant life. But it’s exactly the sort of urban environment that inspired photographer Daniel Shipp’s latest exhibition, Botanical Inquiry.
The Sydney-based photographer has created a series of 11 images that asks the viewer to examine their everyday surroundings for signs of flora we usually overlook in our busy city lives. “I want people to re-notice plants,” says Shipp. “That might be noticing stuff as you walk to work, growing at traffic lights, growing at vacant blocks, places that fit into our urban lives. “I shot a lot of weeds and stuff you wouldn’t normally look at, and I wanted to make that beautiful,” he says.
Botanical Inquiry is also inspired by the creative relationship Shipp shares with founder of The Planthunter, Georgina Reid. The pair has worked together on a number of projects featured on The Planthunter site. Including the monthly series The Dirt. Shipp says Reid has helped him consider plants in a new light.
Shipp’s photographs begin as visual snapshots he sees and mentally files away as he moves around the city. “In my daily travels, riding my bike, walking to work, I notice plants, keep an eye out for things, and I bookmark it. When it comes to shoot, I get in the car and I drive round to all the places I’ve thought about, and take cuttings of all the plants, get a car full of clippings, and bring them back to the studio.”
The next step is to painstakingly arrange the cuttings against different backdrops to create his distinctive images. “It’s all done with the camera,” Shipp says. “There’s no Photoshop to get the plants against the backgrounds. I devised a method based on old cinema techniques to create that sort of special effect."
Botanical Inquiry by Daniel Shipp is showing at Saint Cloche from April 25–May 3.