Stan Smith uses the structures of indigenous food plants to create an informative native vegetable garden on paper.
Thick paper combined with inks to describe and convey information. Puddles of water on the paper, with chalk, to create plots on which to cultivate and grow. A word, or descriptive phrase, to enrich and feed the learning. Ash and charcoal as stimulants for plant growth. This is the language of Stan Smith’s works on paper.
Using these materials, Smith draws delicate, and finely detailed, images of local plant life. Despite the attention to detail in his work, he also enjoys the random marks of the ink as it reacts and travels across the paper in an unpredictable fashion. “It’s like the way weather behaves… or the way contours in the landscape appear.”
Growing up in a farming family, Smith learned to communicate with his father using the language of nature. “One of my earliest memories is sitting on a blanket with a biscuit tin packed with Tic Toc’s and Arrowroot biscuits, watching my father burn tussocks to promote new growth for the sheep. Dad would bring over insects and animals that had been flushed out by the smoke. He would talk about each one and then release it out of harms way.”
Smith’s decision to study art and sculpture, and take those skills into a career of landscape design was a direct result of those early nature lessons. Since then he has continued to expand and refine his own visual language. He has developed an extensive knowledge of local indigenous plants, particularly edible ones, along with a knowledge of how local Koori people once used these plants.