Environmental refuse reborn at new Adelaide Botanic Garden art exhibition

02 March 2022

A new exhibition that displays works of art crafted from agricultural refuse, weeds and debris from environmental regeneration projects has today launched at Adelaide Botanic Garden.

In Overlay, artist Cara Johnson repurposes collected plastic, netting, wire and weeds from the environment to expertly create detailed jewellery and art pieces.

Talking about her work, which is displayed in the Garden’s Santos Museum of Economic Botany, Johnson explains that the lines we generate in our world have inspired her work.

“In this exhibition, I explore lines and interfaces that sit between people and plants. I see them in fence lines, stacked bales of hay and in the unnaturally neat rows of trees that have been planted in an attempt to lessen winds that whip across cleared ground.

“I’m considering the overlap and tensions between land clearing and attempted repair.

“Using tree guards in my work is a way of processing the scramble to fix degraded land. Tree guards can be seen as symbolic of the hope and hopelessness associated with landscape regeneration,” said Johnson.

Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium Director, Michael Harvey, said Johnson’s work tells an important narrative about the harsh human impact of agricultural and land clearing practices.

“Cara Johnson transforms materials into delicate and beautifully crafted pieces using agricultural refuse, weed species and what remains from regeneration projects such as tree guards, willow, silage netting and bailing twine.”

Overlay is a considered and thoughtful look into the tensions within the human/plant relationship and is a timely reminder of our dependence upon plants and the need to preserve and protect them,” said Mr Harvey.

Exhibition details

Santos Museum of Economic Botany, Adelaide Botanic Garden, Adelaide

2 March – 24 July 2022

Wednesday – Sunday; 10am – 4pm

Free entry


About Cara

Cara Johnson’s craft-based works interrogate tensions and narratives surrounding land use. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Art (First Class Hons.) at RMIT University in 2016, where she is a current PhD Candidate and sessional lecturer. Cara exhibits widely nationally and internationally, notably Paper Art 2017 at CODA Museum in the Netherlands and in Elegy at Gallery Funaki in 2020. This year her works were selected for Schmuck 2021 in Munich, and the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize. Cara’s works are held in various private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Victoria.

About the Santos Museum of Economic Botany

The last of its kind in the world the Santos Museum of Economic Botany is dedicated to understanding and showcasing the interaction between plants and people.

It is home to a permanent collection of botanical specimens and models, much of which dates back to the original museum display in 1881. It regularly shows beautiful and immersive exhibitions from local, national and international artists.

The Museum is located within the heart of Adelaide Botanic Garden.

Environmental refuse reborn at new Adelaide Botanic Garden art exhibition

Recent news

Visitor survey

31 May 2024

Have you visited Adelaide, Wittunga or Mount Lofty Botanic Garden recently? If so, please share your thoughts in our visitor survey.

Culture and Art icons join forces in lead-up to Chihuly event

21 March 2024

Two of South Australia’s iconic cultural and arts institutions are joining forces in the lead-up to the Australian premiere of the exclusive international glass-art event, Chihuly in the Botanic Garden, opening at Adelaide Botanic Garden in September 2024. Adelaide’s world class Garden and its craft and design icon, JamFactory, have announced a partnership to foster the growth of local glass-art talent.