By Danielle Kutchel
Quince Frances has always been a maker.
“I love using my hands to create. I have a clear memory of sitting at a craft table at around age five and saying I was going to be an artist when I grow up!” they said.
Quince also works on a flower farm and is passionate about education and gardening – so the upcoming Flora exhibition is the perfect intersection of all of their pursuits.
Drawing inspiration from the natural world, the artist works mostly with watercolour and gouache across two different practices.
One is more illustrative and informational with a focus on plants, ecosystems and gardening.
“I make a moon gardening calendar every year, I’m currently working on a home vegetable garden crop rotation guide and last year I made an image of a riparian ecosystem for Threatened Species Conservancy. These all need to be clear, engaging images, with a design focus,” they said.
“My other practice is more emotional – emotive responses to the landscape.
“Where I live, the Castlemaine region on Dja Dja Wurrung Country, the area was completely destroyed by the Goldrush and whilst the bush that has regrown is beautiful, you can see the long term impacts that mining has had – so my landscape paintings are an expression of my love for the beauty and a lament for what was lost.”
Quince was shortlisted for the City of Greater Dandenong’s Remote Artist Residency, and while they didn’t receive the residency, they applied for the Flora exhibition and submitted an EOI to run a workshop with MPavilion, where participants will learn about botanical illustration and threatened flora species.
In a perfect demonstration of the collaborative ethos of Flora, Quince hopes the outcome of the EOI, if it’s successful, will be greater collaboration between participants.
“The participants [will] have the option to contribute to a collaborative work which will be included in the Flora exhibition,” they explained.
Quince will also exhibit their own work ‘Over the Fence’, a watercolour and gouache work on paper based on their observations of the bush block next door to their home near Castlemaine.
The piece focuses on the light in the coffee bush featured in the image.
“Coffee bush is a pioneer plant, it grows in poor soils and its role in an ecosystem is to improve the soil and provide shade for saplings,” the artist said of the inspiration for their work.
“It grows prolifically in this area, which is an indication of the state of the ecosystem, which I would describe as “attempting to recover”.”
Quince finds creating work about flora “very grounding”, and hopes visitors to Flora will find some sort of similar connection to the Earth and its traditional custodians through the exhibition.
“I hope people will feel inspired by the beauty of flora and the country we live on, the importance of protecting and conserving natural spaces,” they said.
“I hope they feel inspired to know more about the history of the country they inhabit. The more I contemplate the plants that grow where I live, the more connected I feel to the history.
“People have been working with the plants and making art on this country for time immemorial.”
View more of Quince’s work at quincefrances.bigcartel.com or on Instagram @quince.frances
To find out more about the upcoming Flora exhibition, visit www.greaterdandenong.com/document/32758/arts-opportunities