Nature calls

The fine line between humans and nature in Meet Me in the Background. Photos by Jamie McWilliam

THE fine line between humankind and nature is explored in the body painting exhibition Meet Me in the Background.

Fremantle artist Lora Flora and photographer Jamie McWilliam scoured south-west WA for iconic locations to photograph 14 body-painted models, skilfully blending them into the background.

“This exhibition highlights the message that humans are essentially a part of nature,” Flora says. 

“Each diverse environment has its own unique flora and particular ‘feel’. It only takes a few strokes of paint to see the lack of barriers between ourselves and our environment.”

Photo locations included Blackwall Reach in Bicton and the old South Fremantle Power Station, as well as a chilly forest in Nannup.

“The models fully surrendered themselves to the elements for these shoots as conditions were often very challenging,” Flora says. 

“In Nannup we wanted to capture the stunning fairylike moss forest in winter. 

“Moss was collected from fallen logs by torchlight by Jamie while I plastered a mixture of flour, water, and paint on the two models to create texture. 

“The models then lay naked on large moss and fern-clustered logs, whilst more painted green tones and moss was added onto them as the forest began to reclaim them. 

“While a little numb with the cold, both models were entranced with this strange unique experience of ‘becoming the moss’ and feeling like they were just a part of the forest.”

Flora, 29, studied Botany and Conservation Biology at UWA, and is deeply passionate about environmental conservation and education.

“My work has always been inspired by the environment of WA and my yearning to ignite a sense of connection for others,” she says.

Flora got the idea for Meet Me in the Background after competing in the 2018 World Body Paint Competition in Austria, where she attended workshops led by famous European artists who championed camouflage body painting.

On arriving back in Australia she had a chance meeting with McWilliam, a seasoned photographer who has exhibited all over the world and for the last twelve years has been running ecological research projects in Australia, Africa and Europe.

“I have been lucky to spend much of my life exploring natural environments around the planet and have always been fascinated with diversity of different places,” he says.

“My purpose now is to expand the artistic elements of my work to encourage a deeper contemplation about our relationship with the natural world, particularly how we can enrich our lives and connection to the environment. 

Flora is also a muralist and has completed several public art projects on walls in schools and cafes in Fremantle and Perth.  

“I am a big fan of performance art in unexpected places,“ she says.

“Some of my personal favourite works have been simply walking around the centre of Fremantle with a painted model to surprise and entertain unsuspecting passers-by.”

She says the opening night of Meet Me in the Background will include an interactive body art session, with attendees encouraged to join in (so pack some green mascara and hit the gym now).

Meet Me in the Background is at the Pakenham Street Art Space in Fremantle from March 5 – March 19.

By STEPHEN POLLOCK

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