Groundwork is a participatory creative project that uses the gifting of native plants as an opportunity to share the personal and cultural stories that they evoke. The project seeks to build rich new relationships between participants and Australian native flora to alleviate “plant blindness” and encourage the renewal of cultural perspectives on how we relate to the plants that surround us. In this Botanica Festival event, the recipient takes two plants: one for themself and one to give to a friend or loved one. This exchange will be accompanied by a brief verbal story that recipients are invited to add to as they take their plant gift into the world.

Groundwork is a collaborative project by members of the QUT More-Than-Human Futures research group: Charles Robb, Courtney Pedersen, Leah King-Smith, Keith Armstrong, Rachael Haynes. This is the group’s first collaborative art project.

Groundwork extends upon my interest in socially engaged art practices that engage with critical ecological concepts. A recent focus on Australian indigenous plants in my work is a response to our typical disregard, and often lack of knowledge about our plant kin. Much ecological and cultural damage has been done since settlement through processes of ecological erasure; and so richly biodiverse communities have been quietly colonised out of existence across Australia. Gentle, modest projects such as Groundwork seek to re-build lost cultural understandings of the intricately braided connections we share with native flora. Through re-remembering their histories, cultural importance, aesthetic power and myriad personalities, maybe we can better sense how much our two species are as one?