Caroline Rothwell: Bloom Lab

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Caroline Rothwell’s Bloom Lab evolves from her recent digital project Infinite Herbarium. 

Infinite Herbarium launched concurrently at Museum of Contemporary Art as part of The National 2021: New Australian Art (26 March – 22 August 2021) and at The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney (26 March – 31 August 2021).

The project aims to address ‘plant blindness’ and emphasise our connection to living systems that are fundamental to our existence.

Made in collaboration with Google Creative Lab in Sydney, Infinite Herbarium, is a series of six, 28 minute HD video works, featuring a score by Theodore Wohng. 

Each video was created using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine-learning processes, drawing on data-sets of imagery from the open-source Biodiversity Heritage Library as well as a series of recently photographed plants. Analysing these data-sets, the machine-learning model generated images of some 20,000 new plant combinations.

Hundreds of these images were then selected by Rothwell to manifest her six new species of slowly morphing botanical forms. Rothwell’s practice often responds to archival material in museums, public collections and journals, and here she takes primary research to a bold and innovative new digital artistic space.

The Bloom Lab exhibition comprises the Infinite Herbarium six-video installation, along with companion works: three suspended sculptures, and paintings that have also drawn their forms from her hybrid digital archive.

Rothwell’s uncanny embodied forms feel familiar. The strange blooms hold a kind of bodily presence and suggest a human botanical connection. The sculptural blooms are held suspended and upside down in vases that reference a pitcher painted by Picasso, and 18th century botany that swings between curiosity and empire building.

Installation video by Tina Douglas

Installation image by Tina Douglas

Caroline Rothwell
Infinite Herbarium Morphosis #1, 2021
Full HD single channel video, with sound
28.35 minutes loop
Edition of 8 + 2 AP. Sound: Theodore Wohng. Made in collaboration with Google Creative Lab

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Caroline Rothwell
Infinite Herbarium Morphosis #2, 2021
Full HD single channel video, with sound
28.35 minutes loop
Edition of 8 + 2 AP. Sound: Theodore Wohng. Made in collaboration with Google Creative Lab

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Caroline Rothwell
Infinite Herbarium Morphosis #3, 2021
Full HD single channel video, with sound
28.35 minutes loop
Edition of 8 + 2 AP. Sound: Theodore Wohng. Made in collaboration with Google Creative Lab

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Caroline Rothwell
Infinite Herbarium Morphosis #4, 2021
Full HD single channel video, with sound
28.35 minutes loop
Edition of 8 + 2 AP. Sound: Theodore Wohng. Made in collaboration with Google Creative Lab

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Caroline Rothwell
Infinite Herbarium Morphosis #5, 2021
Full HD single channel video, with sound
28.35 minutes loop
Edition of 8 + 2 AP. Sound: Theodore Wohng. Made in collaboration with Google Creative Lab

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Caroline Rothwell
Infinite Herbarium Morphosis #6, 2021
Full HD single channel video, with sound
28.35 minutes loop
Edition of 8 + 2 AP. Sound: Theodore Wohng. Made in collaboration with Google Creative Lab

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Installation image by Tina Douglas

Caroline Rothwell
Pearl Hermaphrodite, 2021
Canvas, acrylic gypsum cement, stainless steel armature, paint, epoxy glass, hardware
144 x 33 x 33 cm
Unique

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Caroline Rothwell
Red Picasso, 2021
Canvas, acrylic gypsum cement, stainless steel armature, paint, epoxy glass, hardware
130 x 65 x 20 cm

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Installation image by Tina Douglas

Caroline Rothwell
Cutting 1, 2021
Acrylic block ink on canvas
132 x 91.5 cm

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Caroline Rothwell
Cutting 2, 2021
Acrylic block ink on canvas
132 x 91.5 cm

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Caroline Rothwell
Cutting 3, 2021
Acrylic block ink on canvas
132 x 91.5 cm

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Caroline Rothwell
Cutting 4, 2021
Acrylic block ink on canvas
132 x 91.5 cm

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Caroline Rothwell biography
Born in Yorkshire, England, Caroline Rothwell currently lives and works on Gadigal Country in Sydney.

She has a research-driven practice investigating how ideologies and beliefs have shaped contemporary society. Approached through a scientific lens, her works explore human interaction with nature throughout history and its lasting effects. Rothwell works across two-and three-dimensional media and animated film, often manipulating representations of living systems alongside industrial forms.

Caroline was recently the winner of the 2021 Ravenswood Women’s Art Prize. 

Recent solo exhibitions include Horizon, Hazlehurst Regional Art Gallery (2021); Corpus, Yavuz Gallery, Singapore (2021); Splice, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2019); ExSitu, Verghis Art, London (2018); Falling Suspended, Roslyn Oxley9 Galley, Sydney (2017); Turbulence, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne (2016); Urpflanze Street Plants, Museum of Economy Botany, Adelaide (2014).

Selected group exhibitions include The National 2021: New Australian Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia; Know My Name: Australia Women Artists 1900 to Now, National Gallery of Australia (2021); Femmage, Art Gallery of South Australia (2019); Make Known: The Exquisite Order of Infinite Variation, UNSW Galleries (2018); The Lady and the Unicorn Collection Bestiary, Art Gallery of New South Wales; Inspiracje 2017, TRAFO Centre for Contemporary Art, Szczecin, Poland; Another Green World: The Landscape of the 21st Century, Western Plains Cultural Centre, Dubbo (2017); Imagine, Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale (2017); Antipodes: cut apart, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge (2016); Fragil, XIII Biennial of Cuenca, Ecuador (2016); Dark Heart, Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2014).

As well as exhibiting extensively in public and private galleries Rothwell has undertaken public commissions at The Economist Plaza, London (for the Contemporary Art Society); City of Canada Bay Council, Sydney; City of Sydney; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington; as well as being awarded the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia’s Loti Smorgon Sculpture Terrace Commission for her work Composer in 2016.

Her work is held in numerous collections in Australia and internationally, including National Gallery of Australia; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Shepparton Art Museum, Shepparton; University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane; State Library of Victoria, Melbourne; City of Sydney; Artbank, Sydney; Lyon Housemuseum, Melbourne; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington; OMI International Arts Center, New York; Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand; University of Auckland, New Zealand; Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand; and the University of Cambridge, England.

Bloom Lab virtual exhibition – digital design by Tina Douglas.


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