I recently visited Adelaide for a group exhibition at FELTspace, a little ARI [Artist Run Initiative] in the centre
of the city. The premise of the show was the artists involved in Seventh, where I volunteer, and the artists from FELT would swap galleries and have exhibitions in eachother's spaces.
While I was in Adelaide, I visited a small museum located in the centre of the botanical gardens. I had read about it by complete coincidence whilst rifling through a magazine in a coffee shop. It is called The Museum of Economic Botany; it was built in 1881, and has recently been refurbished. Within the ornate display cabinets are hundreds of paper mache apples, pears and mushrooms which were commissioned from a group of German craftsmen. These fruits and mushrooms are so lifelike, it is near impossible to tell they are replicas. Even the sheen of the skins has been recreated so some look more waxy, and some of the mushrooms look quite slimy - and decidedly dangerous.
As opposed to the contemporary lust for the hyper-real - the substitution of simulation for reality - these objects emphasise a tender engagement with the original objects, and, in a way, have been crafted as a creative tribute to the diversity of species.