Botanique, a series of artist bookwork’s and prints is part of an ongoing body of work that explore Stewart’s long fascination with utopian architecture such as the glass house or conservatory, the early history of photography and notions of archiving and collecting.
Botanique, the book from which the title of the exhibition is derived is a small found book on early botany of the 19th century. The book was in bad shape, but it captured Stewart’s imagination and she decided to copy each page using cyanotype, the blue print process. Using Stewart’s cyanotype pages the book, was then rebound in the original binding. The book strongly references Anna Atkins, a 19thc botanist and early photographer who is considered to have been the first to create and publish a book using photographic images. She was a master of the cyanotype process. Over the last 15 years Stewart has been photographing and researching greenhouses, conservatories and glass structures as utopian architectures. Interested not only in the formal attributes of construction but also as sites that position and re-position the natural world. They are museums, monuments, and theatres while nature under goes a process of displacement, diminution and transplantation, lodging the glass structures in our collective memory as a replacement for Eden. Echo Utopias is a bound collection of hand printed photo-lithography prints utilizing Stewart’s many photographs and research as source material. The final artist book in the exhibition is her cloud atlas. Once again Stewart mines her collection of photographs this time of clouds from around the world. These images were reproduced in a large format as diazo prints, folded and bound.