The pressing urge of humans to leave marks of their existence is attested by direct prints of hands found in pre-historic caves. This desire to be remembered and documented was among the factors that stimulated the development of human intelligence.
Hailed as the earliest precursor to photography, Nature Printing is the practice of taking impressions directly or indirectly from the surface of natural objects such as leaves, flowers, ferns, seaweed, snakeskin, and more, to produce an image on paper. Nature printing was popular with botanists in the 18th century as an aid in their study of useful and medicinal plants. By printing directly from specimens, they were able to represent plants in an affordable way and to great effect.
In the 19th century, the desire for life-like scientific images in combination with technological innovations led to developments in nature printing. Significant advances occurred between 1842 and 1868, at the kaiserlich-königliche Hof- und Staatsdruckerei zu Wien [Imperial-Royal Court and State Printing Office in Vienna]. Their nature prints still trick the eye with exceptional detail and life-like appearance.
This exhibition spans two rooms, featuring objects mainly from Europe, but also India, Japan, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, dating from 1748 to the present.
The exhibition is curated by
Capturing Nature: Matthew Zucker, Pia Östlund
NParks: Michele Rodda, Martina Yeo
Photography: Martin Slivka
This exhibition would not have been possible without the loan of materials from Matthew Zucker and Pia Östlund, and generous donations through the Garden City Fund.
Exhibition runs from 29 September 2023 to 31 March 2024
Open daily*, 9am – 6pm (Last entry at 5.30pm)
*Closed on the last Thursday of every month