Cranbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens is a giant canvas all of its own. Guiding this masterwork in two major parts, the landscape design practice Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL) has produced one of Australia’s great public gardens. At the risk of sounding breathless, completion of stage 2 sees the achievement travel even further. The gardens must now rate as one of the world’s best-kept botanical secrets.
If this sounds a touch parochial then so be it.
I recently photographed stage two for TCL and the new section is every bit as impressive as the first completed in 2006. Some of these views are available in our online fine art gallery. I recall being wowed when I photographed the project then – its blood-red coloured heart emblematic from above and on the ground.
Viewed from the air, the whole has an epic sweep. Terra firma provides the sensual qualities of texture, composition and colour that produce such a visual feast. It’s therapeutic, uplifting and really quite awesome.
Such work is invariably easier, and harder, to capture than the shoddy job; easier because it is inherently beautiful and harder because as photographer you hope to do it justice.
At a time when the natural world is rapidly shrinking, this celebration of landscape and place demonstrates a thoroughly modern take on a revered art form. We don’t need to re-visit the ancient Chinese gardens, or the fruits of Renaissance Europe to experience the benefits of tranquil and inspired places. Such pleasures are available right in our own backyard.
Photography is only ever a human interpretation. It’s a way of seeing in that instant camera blink. Hopefully it’s a case of one art complementing the other. My Stage Two images and those of my partner Jennifer are with the landscape architects for now but I have included a small group of views taken earlier from Stage One - The Red Sand Garden included under ‘Landscape’ and ‘New Work’.
Old or new, we have tried to ensure each camera blink recalls an expanded, timeless quality and wonder only evident in such extraordinary gardens. And parochial or not, these feel beautifully, unashamedly and unmistakably Australian.