I have been working on this series since 2019 and it is ongoing. It began initially around our house in the Pretty River Valley in Southern Ontario, a beautiful place surrounded by protected Crown land. But as I worked and learned more about the plants I began to explore areas around ponds and rivers, along the shoulder of country roads, and on pathways in the forest, places where I discover diverse flora. And I have extended the project to revisit the same plants throughout the seasons, bearing witness to their transformation from initial sprouting, then blooming, to the fascinating seed phase. Over this intense time, Nocturnal Botanical Ontario has grown to embrace what it means to be here to both mourn what is disappearing, but also to celebrate what endures.
Working at night, my visual perception and orientation is ungrounded. Feeling my way through the tall grasses, my senses are on heightened alert. Responding intuitively, I work with the scanner to uncover specimens that grow in proximity to one another. I scan plants in a priori encounters as luminescent images emerge through the darkness. Attracted by my presence and the light, insects appear and interact to create their own compositions.
The detailed ecologies that emerge reveal the invisible and layered histories embedded in these images. Indigenous plants grow entwined with foreign, cultivated and invasive species. Considering these compositions closely, my passion and attachment to this place are entangled with deep colonial histories and ongoing commercial interests in the land.
Using high-resolution imaging tools, looking closely raises difficult questions. To whom does the land really belong? How did these plants come to be entwined? These photographs are also reminiscent of Dutch still-life paintings, memento mori reminding us of the brevity of life and nature and calling us to a spiritual awakening.
You can see the full series of images on Sara Angelucci’s website here. The Plant Practice series is edited by Mark Watson. If you’d like to take part in this series in the future, do send a pitch to online editor Charlotte Du Cann at [email protected]