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Shadow top Chris Chameleon reviews ‘Vanishing Flora’

Chris Chameleon reviews ‘Vanishing Flora’

I received the book, thank you! It is a very special production, beautiful pictures, urgent issue. Review? Ok, below:

For a while in the 1990’s I fancied myself a photographer. Fortunately for both myself and for the rest of the world, this little indulgence didn’t make it much further than a few pictures of buildings and sunsets that have now found their resting place in the back of a cupboard along with old school books and the fanciful notion that once upon a time in the future I may, as an old man with a lot of time, be able to peruse such paraphernalia where they will rightly serve the humble purpose of tending to personal nostalgia.

One of the ideas for a photo-series I contemplated was to emphasise vulnerability by contextually juxtaposing it with absolute brutality. Something like a very young gosling in front of a bulldozer.

In Anneke Kearney’s ‘Vanishing Flora’, I have found this vision brought to a stark and beautiful reality.

On the face of it, ‘Vanishing Flora’ is a lovely little coffee table book, full of exquisite pictures of some of the most unique flowers in the world. But lurking in the background, like a gas guzzling bulldozer headed straight for a fluffy gosling, is the threat of a dreadful extermination.

Kearney’s images are sharp and close-up, rendering views that may escape the average eye. The extreme intricacy of these flowers are captured, their beauty and vulnerability. They seem to leap from the pages in such clarity that a slight trick of the imagination puts you there, in the unique floral kingdom of the fairest Cape. A delightful marriage of science and art.

Us non-botanists often walk past little flowers without noticing them. In our big and moving world they are silent, motionless sentinels of a seemingly less than important domain. Kearney brings you into this world with poignancy. For knowledge cravers such as myself, there is a little scientific name info, the common name and location - just enough to add to the personal general knowledge cachet without making you feel like you’ve embarked on your botanics doctorate.

And then, invariably, there is the little detail of their threat level. This is done carefully and tastefully, so as to not overrule the beauty and tranquillity of the book, yet adequately reminding us that if we don’t act now the beauty of these images will be confined to the pages of this book.

One very charming addition to the book is the little erratum, attached to the preface page, which indicates where the threat level has been incorrectly listed. Who would know? In such a rich and diverse floral kingdom this is the sort of detail that will escape most fundis. But the inclusion of this erratum bears testimony to the thoroughness of the production, the meticulous attention to detail of its compilers and essentially proves that few, if any, could have been better suited to attempt a book of this nature with this message.

Anneke Kearney’s ‘Vanishing Flora’ is conservation at its beautiful best; urgent, yet unobtrusive, raising concern yet not overriding the enjoyment of nature’s beauty. This is the sort of conservation that attracts readers, moves them to gentle action.

Written by: Metz Press - 06 May 2013
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Shadow bottom Chris Chameleon reviews ‘Vanishing Flora’