The Coastal Cabins on board Expedition vessel Odalisque reflect the colours of Tasmania's east coast

On Board Expeditions partners with Tasmanian Botanical Artist Deborah WACE

Deborah WACE is a Hobart-based art, fabric design and professional printmaking company creating luxurious, sophisticated and visually rich fabrics, fashion accessories, soft furnishings, wallpaper and limited-edition art

On Board has partnered with Tasmanian artist Deborah Wace to use art to magnify and educate about threatened Tasmanian plants.

Celebrating the uniqueness of Tasmanian plants and flowers, each design is an intimate artwork that creates a window into the botany of Tasmania’s wild and often endangered plant communities: from its threatened native orchids, marine plants, and wild buttongrass heathland communities near Lune River or around Recherche Bay, to species only found deep within the threatened temperate rainforests of the Tarkine region.

Deborah would like to specially thank Pieter and Alice van der Woude for inclusion in this exceptional project; Dick Smith AC, who launched the boat; friend and expert boat guide Peter Marmion; and interior designer Rebecca Kirkland for incorporating Deborah’s designs so beautifully into the boat fitout.

‘I am proud to be included in the production of an “all Tasmanian” showcase that is the Odalisque III.’

Sharing the same values that On Board takes with tourism in a remote wild landscape, Deborah uses her art to magnify and educate about threatened plants, many endemic to a particular part of the island. Sustainability is sought across the whole supply chain of her range.

Deborah’s work also echoes the earlier sterling efforts of Deny King (1909-1991), iconic tin miner and naturalist who lived for fifty-five years in Port Davey in the Southwest. He made an incredible difference for habitat preservation, including that of the orange-bellied parrot, and made discovery of Lomatia tasmanica or King’s Holly, one of the plant specimens woven into the cushions for Odalisque III.

Deborah Wace Botantical Artist Designs Cushions for Expedition Vessel
Deborah Wace's lomatia tasmanica cushions in expedition vessel's dining room

How the designs are created

Deborah Wace uses time-honoured print techniques. Her inspiration is drawn from her extensive botanical specimen library. She combines pressed plant images with drypoint (scribing onto an acrylic printmaking plate) and monoprint original artwork and etchings, which she digitally layers to create rich, complex botanical designs.

These mirror the type specimen sheets held in herbarium collections internationally, where the pressed plant specimens and accompanying field notes provide direct inspiration for detailed engravings published in botanical reference books.

Storytelling through art

Through her visually rich and flowing artistry, Deborah tells stories of her connection to landscape, history and her passion for the flora of the beautiful island, Tasmania. She weaves a narrative through her designs of plant collectors and early French naturalists, the palawa people of lutruwita and of her deep connection to flora and botany. This historical foundation builds a greater understanding of the significance of these early botanical collections, our interconnection with nature, and fosters greater respect for our flora.

‘Giant Kelp Forest’ silk scarf

Photo: Amy Brown

Giant Kelp Forest Cushion in Odalisque III expedition vessel's Coastal Cabin

The French connection

Tasmania’s history is rich with French connections from the early European voyages of discovery. In the 1790s, the French d’Entrecasteaux scientific expedition explored, documented and named Recherche Bay on the extreme south-east corner of Tasmania. They gathered important pioneering botanical specimens that are now held in the great Herbaria of Europe and the United Kingdom.

Deborah Wace’s 2018 Churchill Fellowship took her to Europe to study the botanical records of this and other Tasmania French expeditions. She studied botanical specimens located in herbarium collections in Paris, Florence, and Kew from the d’Entrecasteaux expeditions to Tasmania in 1792-93, and the Baudin expedition from 1800-1803.

Original, contemporary cultural motifs born from this experience are woven into Deborah WACE art and fabric designs.

The Sartorial Naturalist Collection

The Odalisque III guest rooms are decorated with ‘Giant Kelp Forest’ and ‘Lomatia tasmanica (in blue)’, which are just two of the designs in the Deborah WACE ‘The Sartorial Naturalist’ collection.

Inspired by the wild and often raw Tasmanian environment, this ever-evolving and alluring range of products bears the signature Deborah WACE botanical designs.

‘Giant Kelp Forest’ cushion design

Giant Australian Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) is a magnificent plant can grow to 30 metres from the sea floor to the water’s surface, creating dense forests along the exposed coasts and deep water reefs of Tasmania.

These giant forests support an incredible range of species and are at dire risk of extinction from the rising sea temperatures created by human-induced climate change.

The Giant Kelp Forest have now been classified as a ‘Threatened Ecological Community’ because of the vast number of other species which rely on a healthy marine ecosystem.

‘The whole ecosystem is under threat from sea temperature rise, and the kelp, a massive underwater forest system which supports a whole ecology, is collapsing. I want to let people know of the giant kelp’s imminent peril, through the lens of my designs,’ says Deborah.

Lomatia tasmanica (in blue)’ cushion design

Lomatia tasmanica or King’s Holly is a critically endangered plant, surviving in just one location in southwest Tasmania. It has sterile flowers and regenerates by root suckering and coppice, due to its inability to produce seeds.

There are thought to be only 500 plant stems clustered around 1.2 kilometres of rainforest gully, meaning one catastrophic bushfire could eradicate it forever. It may be one of the oldest plants on earth.

Deborah comments that, ‘The story of Lomatia tasmanica is one of resilience and survival. There is hope however, as the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens is successfully propagating it to ensure its survival.’

Each piece is saturated with the warmth and richness of chartreuse greens, antique golds, seaweed pinks, lichen blues, burnt umbers and a myriad of other colours inspired by nature.

‘Lomatia tasmanica (in blue)’ design

Deborah can work with your team to create a custom designed piece inspired by you, which embodies the signature Deborah WACE style using her designs, prints, etchings and botanical assets. Her design services are perfect for restaurants, hotel chains, fashion designers and clients seeking an authentic, exclusive and one-of-a-kind work of art, architectural substrate or design for their home or business.

If you are interested in the creation of your own bespoke piece that is truly unique, contact Deborah WACE to discuss your idea.

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