Footpath Flora – NRM South’s signal box art

Take a stroll past the NRM South office at 313 Macquarie Street in Hobart, and you’ll be treated to a botanical bonanza on the nearby signal box courtesy of talented local artist Deborah Wace. In late 2016, NRM South commissioned Deborah to create a botanical series featuring some of Tasmania’s rarest and most celebrated plants, with each of the four sides of the signal box profiling different groups of plants.

In developing her piece, Deborah selected plants that she felt represented the unique and sometimes overlooked biodiversity of the Tasmanian landscape – showcasing those values that NRM South is working to protect in the work that we do.

‘I wanted this piece to provide an education opportunity for people passing by, but it has another underlying message also’, Deborah explained. ‘While each of the plants on the signal box has both its common name and botanical name listed, I also deliberately created labels that looked like price tags – asking the question; “what is the price of biodiversity, and what is the cost of losing a species?” ‘

As well as including some of our more well-known and iconic species – King’s lomatia, fagus, greenhood orchids and sassafras, Deborah also included many of the lesser-known and generally overlooked species, such as slime moulds. Shining a light on the unknown is a common theme in Deborah’s work – with many of her illustrations featuring the hidden details of her plant models.

‘My overall message is to show that ‘everything matters’ and that even these small things we so often overlook are an important part of the bigger picture’

Adding a splash of nature to an otherwise highly modified urban landscape was not without its challenges. Deborah spent many hours braving inclement weather and a constant stream of noisy traffic, but one thing she did make note of was the sheer number of people who would stop and talk with her about the piece – which clearly generated a lot of interest from passers-by. The finished work is now complete and while the majority of this artwork will serve as a welcome distraction for morning commuters at the Macquarie/Antill Street traffic lights, it’s only from the footpath that you’ll be able to appreciate the impressive orchid panel!

Take a look at the image and reference list below to find out more about the plants featured on each panel – and if you’re interested in finding out more about Deborah’s work, check out her website.

  1. FUNGI, LICHEN AND SLIME MOULDS: Rainbow bracket fungus (Trametes versicolor), Coral fungus (Ramaria lorithamnus) Slime mould (Lamproderma echinulatum), Orange mycena (Mycena leaiana), Sac fungi (Cladonia pleurota), Dark coral lichen (Cladia aggregata)
  2. ORCHIDS: Nodding greenhood (Pterostylis nutans), Bearded orchid (Calochilus robertsonii), Three-horned bird orchid (Chiloglottis triceratops), Large tongue orchid (Cryptostylis subulata), Dark finger orchid (Caladenia atrata)
  3. FERNS AND MOSSES: Bats wing fern (Histiopteris incisa), Mountain clubmoss (Lycopodium fastigiatum), Short spleen wort (Asplenium obtusatum), Hard water fern (Blechnum wattsii), Lance water fern (Blechnum chambersii), Kangaroo fern (Microsorum pustulatum subsp. pustulatum)
  4. VASCULAR PLANTS: Deciduous beech (Nothofagus gunnii), Dogwood (Pomaderris apetala), King’s holly (Lomatia tasmanica), Sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum), Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus), Leatherwood (Eucryphia lucida), Celery top pine (Phyllocladus aspleniifolius)