Editorial: Botanical Art

Editorial by John Fleming

LTHOUGH THE DECORATIVE IMPULSE in its earliest historic manifestations may be ascribed to human understanding of natural forms and forces as signs with mythic, religious, and spiritual meanings— sun discs, phases of the moon, wave-like repetitions, and the like— it seems generally accepted that the origins of botanical illustration arose as a technique of …

The Diaphanous Folds of Botanical Art: The Work of Jean Johnson

Article by John Fleming

OTANICAL ART HAS BEEN a life-long presence in Jean Johnson’s imagination. She recalls from early days recurring walks through fields and woods with her father, an avid gardener and amateur naturalist, who named as they went, in the well-established binomial system of Linnaeus, wildflowers, plants, and shrubs in both common and scientific terms. Thus …

The Colours of Nature: Dye Plants and Design

Article by Thea Haines and Rachel MacHenry
Photographs by Thea Haines

PPLYING DECORATIVE COLOUR obtained from natural sources—plants, insects and minerals—is an ancient practice, with evidence of natural colourants being found in textile fragments from as early as 2500 BC. The practice of dyeing and mordanting cloth was recorded by Pliny and Herodotus. …

Mining Material: The Emerald Ash Borer

Article by Noa Bronstein

N RECENT YEARS, concepts of greening, repurposing and using salvaged materials have not only guided the design of spaces and objects, but have entered the public vernacular in unprecedented ways. Our collective interest in responsible methods of production, fabrication and distribution has led to greater focus on the relationship between consumers, makers and socio-environmental …

The Crying of LOT 222 : A Victorian Brooch Deconstructed

Article by Donna Bilak

SNAPSHOT IN TIME. It was early in the afternoon on September 9th, 2013, when Lot 222 came up on the block at Waddington’s Jewellery and Watch Auction in Toronto. Described in the catalogue as a 19th-century 18kt yellow gold brooch weighing 16 grams, its oval body was decorated with a simple filigree pattern embellished …

Linking Human to Nature and Hand to Machine: Marian Bantjes’s Designs

Article by Brian Donnelly

ISTORY SUGGESTS THAT even the most unexpected twists and turns never come completely from nowhere. Narratives of the career of designer and artist Marian Bantjes always note her sudden rise, “bursting” onto the scene in 2003, an overnight sensation at age 40. Her commitment to pattern and ornament combines in a fresh style that …

What Buildings Tell: Fossils Hidden in Plain View

Article by Ingrid Birker

HE DECORATIVE FEATURES OF BUILDINGS are usually the result of an intentional design process that begins with the architect’s vision and develops through a myriad of choices about materials and construction. But sometimes serendipity enters the picture, offering surprising adornments that can yield rich decorative treasures.

As someone who teaches paleontology, I am used …