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Sydney, New South Wales, Australia born 1956

Impossible flowers. 2000
Collection Title: Wright, Helen. 'Impossible flowers'. A boxed set of 10 digital prints. Hobart, 2000.
Page: collection record
Place made: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Materials & Technique: prints, portfolios, ink; paper digital prints, printed in colour inks, from digital files Support: thick smooth off-white wove Arches 300 gsm hot pressed watercolour paper
Edition State: published state
Impression: 2/8
Edition: edition of 8

Primary Insc: Each sheet is signed, dated, titled and inscribed with edition details.
Dimensions: printed image (each) 15.0 h x 10.0 w cm sheet (each) 30.0 h x 21.0 w
Acknowledgement: Gordon Darling Australasian Print Fund 2000
Accession No: NGA 2000.297.1-11
Subject: Australia, Plants
  • Purchased by the National Gallery of Australia, from Helen Maxwell Gallery, Canberra, 2000.

My first inspiration for this suite of prints came from a newsworthy item about a triumph of genetic technology in the production of the sweetest, most luscious tomato. The ‘perfect’ tomato was produced by crossing a tomato gene with a salmon gene. The surreal, even absurd images that this genetic marriage inspired formed the basis for the prints in this box-set. Other influences have been Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the great voyages of discovery which returned botanic booty to Europe during the Enlightenment and culminated in the Victorian ‘rage for curiosity’ and the spectacle of cabinets of curiosities.

Impossible flower is the first in a series of digital and traditional prints in this format under the title of ‘The impossible’. My interpretation of the ‘impossible’ is a slightly ironic one. Although the more grotesque and disturbing aspects of the impossible made possible do not appear in this suite of prints. In 1996, I produced a series of drawings called ‘Impossible science’and, in 1998, I worked on a large commission at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Hobart entitled ‘Nature observed’. These works inform this suite of prints. My intention in these works has been to deal with the interpretation of a Utopian nowhere place  – a voyage of discovery and exploration to an imaginary continent through the use of computer technology. This is not unlike the great voyages of exploration which introduced new species through travel, trade and horticulture and marked the development of new varieties of hybrids and cultivars.

These are impossible flowers from a garden of earthly delights. Imaginative amalgams from a Golden Age. A wish fulfilment in its most positive sense.

Helen Wright, 20001

1 Helen Wright, text accompanying Impossible Flower, boxed set of 10 digital prints, Hobart: 2000.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra