Taking us on an illustrative journey across the globe, Amy Pezzin’s Garden of Extinction uses a camera-less photographic technique to delve deep into the fascinating realm of plants, each one threatened by imminent extinction.
Plants. The backbone of all life on Earth. Without these fascinating organisms, the environment and all life within would cease to exist. Plants together form a vast network of roots, shoots, leaves and flowers to support countless species; a single tree can provide food and shelter to millions of insects and worms, as well as small mammals, birds and reptiles.
Humanity is affecting the planet in many ways. Over the past few centuries, the rapid development of civilisation has consistently eroded the Earth and its ecosystems. From deforestation to habitat destruction, and rising sea levels to soil acidification, the natural world is forever under threat.
Today, almost all extinctions of individual species are attributed directly to exploitative human actions. There are roughly one hundred thousand plants that are threatened – more than a third of known plant species. This number continues to rise every day.
The disturbance of delicate relationships between species and habitats by reckless human development impoverishes quality of life for all. Ultimately, this would threaten the survival of not only human life, but all life on Earth. Biodiversity is the foundation of Earth’s survival.
But as the light of conservation shines upon our century, plants are often overlooked and left wilting in the shadows, as megafauna such as pandas and elephants take centre stage. Yet plants are the very essence of these species’ existence – therefore should they not be given equal love and attention?
Garden of Extinction delves deep into the fascinating realm of plants, taking you on an illustrative cyanotype journey around the globe, to discover all manner of strange and beautiful species – each one threatened by imminent extinction.
Each illustration has been individually printed through the hands-on cyanotype process, a camera-less photographic method pioneered by the likes of botanist and photographer, Anna Atkins.
Atkins created contact prints of algae by placing them directly onto cyanotype paper and exposing to the sun. This technique was developed for Garden of Extinction, by printing from an acetate negative. This ensured the details of the drawings were pin sharp and not lost during the process.
The project was completed by gathering all 36 illustrations and displaying them in a self-published photobook, fully funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Each species was presented with a fact page, providing essential information on the importance of the plants and the factors causing its demise. These pages were likewise printed through the cyanotype method, creating an exclusively blue-and-white publication.
Categorised by continents, there is a surprising twist at the last section: Antarctica. Plants should be difficult to find here, but with rapidly rising temperatures of the Earth’s atmosphere causing the icecaps to melt, they are found to be flourishing.
When I first started working on this project, I had no idea how much it would open my eyes to the enormity of damage certain human activity is bringing upon the natural world. Now, I am more aware than ever. I strive to address pressing concerns regarding the climate crisis, and aim to raise awareness to endangered species across the globe. I hope that my efforts shine a light on the need for action and advocate a more environmentally conscious mind set towards the natural world.
Amy Pezzin’s artwork is heavily inspired by nature. Through a delicate and mindful approach, she documents particular species, particularly ones that are under threat of extinction. Her goal is to directly address growing concerns towards the climate crisis by beautifully portraying aspects of the natural world. She hopes to advocate an environmentally conscious mind-set towards the Earth.