Seaweed inspires Ryder’s ‘highly’ original art

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Julie Ryder
Julie Ryder

IN Canberra’s increasingly sophisticated arts-science scene, Julie Ryder is one of the main players.

Although many people think of her as a paper and textile artist, Ryder was originally trained in in microbiology and zoology, but later retrained as a textile designer at the Melbourne Institute of Textiles and started her own design studio. There she created her own dyes and watercolours from fruit and other natural plant extracts, also using volcanic ash and ochres in screen print and leaves, stones and bones to create works on paper.

During arts residencies at the National Museum of Australia, Malaysia’s Rimbun Dahan, Hill End and Bundanon, the Australian National Botanic Gardens and CSIRO, Ryder continued her research into new areas of art, photographing plants and insects at CSIRO, then re-forming them digitally.

The Australian Garden History Society will turn the spotlight on another area of her practice when it hosts a talk by the artist, somewhat outrageously titled “Ocean’s Gay Flowers: Uncovering the Mysteries of 19 C Australian Seaweed Collections”.

Julie Ryder’s “artandthebryophyte” exhibition at the Botanic Gardens.

Ryder has spent several years searching to identify the anonymous collector of an album of seaweed specimens from the 19th century, starting in the National Museum of Australia, then following the trail to collections in Ireland.

She has also drawn inspiration from these seaweed specimens to create new and highly original works of art.

“Ocean’s Gay Flowers: Uncovering the Mysteries of Australian Seaweed Collections of the 19th Century”, theatrette, Canberra Museum and Gallery, corner of London Circuit and Civic Square, Canberra City, 6pm, Thursday, June 13, refreshments provided, bookings to

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Helen Musa
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