Timed to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show and the Chelsea Fringe Festival, this exhibition of new work showcases Hammond’s modern and disruptive approach to the historic tradition of botanical prints and the science of horticulture. Instead of seeking to record and classify plants, the artist creates imaginary tableaux: ‘Everything I make is a cocktail of fact and fiction – of things found out in the world, things I invent, and hybrids of the two.’
Some of Hammond’s botanical collages contain specific themes. For example, in one piece, all of the plants are poinsonous. Another features all of the stages of the Monarch butterfly and its food supply. All of the works contain imaginative attitudes toward colour, scale, form, and botany itself. ‘In the end, I’m looking for a bold unity that is built upon dissociation and tension, as well as harmony.’
Originally trained as a sculptor and ceramist, Hammond has evolved her own technique of making these collages, first creating an elaborate collage for the ground itself, often with Japanese papers. Then the artist begins to arrange botanical elements already printed or drawn, painted and painstakingly cut out. She continues arranging, re-arranging, and swapping until the piece unifies. Then all the elements are glued exactly in place and pressed flat under blotters and stacks of books from her library.
‘I don’t like the uniformity of surface in traditional printmaking. I want something fresher, more varied and multi-lingual.’ Each collage combines handmade and digital imagery – linoleum blocks that are hand-carved, hand-printed and later hand-coloured, with photographs the artist has taken, in markets, gardens and flower shops – as well as found images drawn from the the world of colouring books, vintage handkerchiefs, wallpaper and textiles. While collage, printmaking and photography are separate media, for Hammond, all of them are inextricably bound together in her work and are essential to her vision of art: ‘I have an encyclopedic mind that scavenges for information and imagery, wherever I can find it.'