Margaret Rose Preston (1875–1963) was an Australian painter and printmaker. Regarded as one of Australia’s most significant modernist artists, Preston aimed to produce a modern national art based on the principles and motifs of Asian, modernist and Aboriginal art. She was largely interested in still life, and often featured Australian flora and wildflowers in her paintings and colour woodblock prints. The images are characterised by vibrant colours, bold geometric shapes and black outlines, such as in Fuchsia, 1928, Wheelflower, c. 1929, and Bird of Paradise, 1925.
Look at the related artworks and use the following discussion prompts with your class:
Flora can be used in art as a symbol to express emotions and ideas. What can we learn about Margaret Preston’s feelings about Australian flora by looking at her artworks? Explain your answer.
Like Margaret Preston, we are going to consider how we, as artists, can use native Australian flora to communicate meaning. This will require some research into the physical characteristics and properties of flora species native to Australia and what these attributes can mean and symbolise. Take the example of a eucalyptus tree:
Students design and create a print of a symbolic native Australian flower through the following steps:
Students show their print to a partner and answer the following questions: