Seeds for survival: how botanical art nurtures nature

Marni Stuart

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Golden Shells and Elegant Games of Japan publication documents the exhibition Golden Shells and the Gentle Mastery of Japanese Lacquer, held at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2021. The publication features two large lacquer Kai-oke (shell boxes) containing the only known complete kai-awase set of 720 decorated shells, separated into 360 pairs. Each pair is depicted an Australian or Japanese flower using lacquer painting. The artwork was commissioned by Pauline Gandel AC. (National Gallery of Victoria, 2021)

Seeds for survival; how botanical art nurtures nature explores the relationship between art and ecological conservation through the lens of the Golden Shells and the Gentle Mastery of Japanese Lacquer exhibition. The chapter details a collection of Australian wildflowers depicted within the collection including boronias, hibiscus and wattles, exploring the symbolism of flowers depicted on a collection of the shells, as displayed in both Japanese and Australian culture.  The chapter proposes the role that the observation and depiction of botanicals play within art and popular culture. This act works to diminish the dualist divide between nature and culture to counter plant blindness (Wandersee and Schussler, 1999); said to be our inability to see plants that we don’t already know.

National Gallery of Victoria. (2021). Golden Shells and Elegant Games of Japan. NGV Design Store.

Wandersee, J. H., & Schussler, E. E. (1999). Preventing plant blindness. The American Biology Teacher, 61(2), 82-86.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGolden shells and the gentle mastery of Japanese lacquer
EditorsWayne Crothers
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherNational Gallery of Victoria
Number of pages172
ISBN (Print)9781925432770
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • botanical illustration
  • Asia-Pacific art


Dive into the research topics of 'Seeds for survival: how botanical art nurtures nature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this