New Shoots

Identity and Communication, for Red Room Poetry, Australian Poetry and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Victoria

New Shoots is a poetic event at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. Set within the Royal Botanic Gardens, the event ‘celebrates and cultivates poems inspired by plants and place to deepen cultural connections with nature’.

New Shoots Victoria commissioned 10 poets including Bruce PascoeMaria TakolanderBonny CassidyAutumn RoyalRyan PrehnElena GomezDuncan HoseChris Wallace CrabbeCarissa Lee Godwin, and Cameron Lowe to create a series of poems that respond to sites, spores, histories and seeds across Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Poems recorded, performed, shared on seed packs and ‘planted’ in the garden throughout the year.

I began to work on illustrated look and feel for the Victorian identity for New Shoots 2017 in June 2017. While the brief was to incorporate the delicacy of the hand-drawn image I was wary of purely attempting to replicate an older style of botanical illustration. Keeping with the idea of the hand illustration I worked on a style that used a sketch and then a vectorised version of the image with a colour base – an allusion to water colour yet very clearly a digital construction.

The uneven-ness and splatter embedded in the images are deliberate devices used to break the clarity and cleanliness of the digital line. Plant features make unlikely combinations—flowers of an emerging spring married to the dead leaves of winter – locating it seasonally into an early September Melbourne.


Options for Melbourne tram sky breakers – later replaced by photographic options. Scroll down for final images.

Below: Conjunctions and illustrative options

Above: Seed cards. These cards were gifted to visitors to the New Shoots even and at subsequent Australian Poetry events. The paper is impregnated with seeds of various herbs and native plants. The card in soaked in water until soft—placed on seed raising mix (in pot or ground), covered lightly with more mix. Watered and kept moist. Germination in approx 7 – 21 days. This is a celebration of the cyclical nature of life and the capacity to relinquish and let one object cycle move into the next.

Seed Cards of Callistemon citrinus (Lemon-scented Bottlebrush), Ocimum basilicum (Basil Sweet Genova), and Origanum vulgare (Common Oregano).

Below: Tram Sky Breakers: Advertising for the event.

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