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Migrant artist inspired by Australian flowers

11 January 20240 comments

A stunning art exhibition celebrating the ethereal symbolism of Australian native flowers is about to open in Melbourne.

The creator of the ‘Blossoms of Life’ exhibition at the Victorian Artists Society (VAS) is Taiwan-born artist Hsin Lin, whose work is inspired by the unique and almost spiritual properties of native Australian plants.

Lin has been a VAS member since 2019 but because of the COVID-19 lockdowns, it has taken three years to stage her exhibition.

Originally from Taiwan, Lin first came to Australia to study fashion design at RMIT. She returned home and set up successful fashion label.

“My fashion label was going well but sometimes life is full of uncertainty and there are always new opportunities. I eventually returned to Australia and I have now lived here 13 years,” Lin said.

She said she began painting after arriving in Australia as a kind of therapy.

“Getting married and coming to Australia permanently was a big a change for me. So, I started painting for meditation,” Lin said.

“People would asked me why I painted native flowers when I first came here. The truth is that I was overwhelmed by the beauty and uniqueness of native plants. They are like nothing else in the world.

“I started to learn to observe the flowers around me and I started to paint them. I had leaned art in junior school but stopped when I decided that fashion design would be my future.”

Lin is largely a self-taught artist.

“When I picked up the paint brushes after so many years it just felt right. I wanted to improve, so I learned from everything I could; from the internet art, magazines and art society,” she said.

“An Australian art magazine contacted me and wanted to do an interview. I was suspicious at first but the experience taught me that there is a large artistic community in Australia,” Lin said.

“Fortunately, it ended well and I was featured in Australian Artist’s Palette Magazine in August 2017 as my first debut.”

But Lin found navigating the art world in Australia was not all plain sailing.

“There were ups and downs; some of the galleries couldn’t spell my name properly even though I typed it out for them,” she said.

“This can be problematic because it can mean potential clients or customers cannot find you.”

Lin eventually found a welcoming and empathetic arts community at the Victorian Artists Society (VAS).

“If Taiwan was my first home and Australia my second home, then the VAS is my third home.

“Life is full of uncertainty. I never thought I would be an artist and until I was 30 fashion design was everything I knew.

“But life in Australia opened up my mind and vision. Taiwan is a fast paced society; for me the lifestyle is quite different. As time went by I started to see things in a different perspective,” Lin said.         

Lin’s exhibition features meticulously detailed acrylic paintings that celebrate native and common flora and wildlife and highlight the ecologies and habitats that support and connect them.

The series of paintings feature flowers that have symbolic meanings.

Lin’s process is involves carefully looking at the subjects to capture an incredible amount of intricate detail. One her larger-scale works, Lin normally spends 6-12 months developing the intricate composition. The fine details such as the tiny petals have been developed through ten or more layers of paint.

“To experience the seasons, it has become a routine of mine to paint the first bloom around my surroundings, during its flowering season,” Lin said.

She said there were rich meanings hidden behind different kinds of flowers.

“Banksia Prionotes, also known as Acorn Banksia or Orange Banksia, symbolizes rebirth, regeneration and new beginnings,” Lin said.

“Amaranthus, with tiny flowers blooming in cascading clusters creating a weeping effect, is considered a symbol of immortality due to its longevity.

“Dracula Celosia, formerly Celosia cristata, also known as cockscomb, is the crested variety of the species Celosia argentea. The unusual shape and richly-hued blooms of the flower is not the only reason why it stands out, it’s also believed that celosia is a good omen.

“Celosia is a symbol of boldness. If you want to wish someone courage, gifting Celosia to the person you care about will send the right message. Celosia flowers also stand for affection, love, individuality, partnership, resilience, and strength.

“Yellow Paper Daisy, also known as Sticky Everlasting, Shiny Everlasting, or Golden Everlasting, stands for youthful beauty and gentleness. Some people look at the daisy to be a symbol of good luck. However, the most popular meanings attached to the daisy are – loyal love, innocence, and purity.

“As for my all-time favourite – Eucalyptus flowers and gum nuts stand for Healing and Protection.

“Flowers always bloom in their own time without competing with other flowers. May we all bloom in our time in the best season,” Lin said.

Lin’s exhibition ‘Blossoms of Life’ is at the McCubbin Gallery at the Victorian Artists Society, xxx between January 11 and 22.

See a time-lapse video of Lin’s work here:

See images from the exhibition here: Hsin Lin—Blossoms of Life (