Arts Territory Exchange participant Julia Groves is a multidisciplinary artist with a recent focus on drawing exploring ethnobotanical themes. Her practice is informed by many years working as a horticulturist and by the historical and contemporary traditions of botanical art and illustration and their re-configurations within contemporary drawing practice.
She used Goethian observation techniques to study plant structure, geometry, colour and pattern. Groves engages with specimens in her local landscape and regularly accesses National plant collections such as Bedgebury Pinetum Florilegium.
Her work has as one of its interests the endeavours of Botanical societies in saving and preserving species and the transient territories of specimens gathered from distant parts of the world on seed gathering trips and expeditions. The themes of territory and habitat heavily inform her work and she has an active interest in ethnobotanical investigation and connections whether spiritual, symbolic or cultural, between plants and their place within regional indigenous cultures. Behind the traditional practice of ethnobotany resides the long and complicated history of the Colonial research expedition and the wide network of travel cast by intrepid specimen collectors which led to the formation of the major Botanical gardens such as Kew. Groves work is also often informed by personal itinerancy as she traverses her local topography on foot; reflecting on the plants she finds and their migrant or indigenous territories and the possible journeys of the seeds on their wind blown trajectories.
Groves is in the process of making her own migration from Kent to Suffolk and is using her transition from one territory to another as a catalyst for a new body of work as part of the Arts Territory Exchange.