Celebrated artist pays homage to the land she now calls home

Published on 23 February 2022

Maria Fernanda Cardoso with Eucalyptus Gumnuts Spheres 2021  Photo credit Jillian Nalty Courtesy of the artist and Sullivan + Strumpf

Maria Fernanda Cardoso’s Gumnut Spheres exhibition celebrates the wonder, beauty and astonishing complexity of nature and pays homage to the land she now calls home.

For Gumnut Spheres, Cardoso has created a series of sculptures composed of diverse species of the Eucalyptus’ tough, wooden seed capsules.

With its lush green foliage, showy blooms (made up mostly of anthers) and woody gumnuts, the Eucalyptus is Australia’s most recognised and iconic plant, and Cardoso believes, a living world that should be celebrated.

Cardoso said: “To me, the Eucalyptus is an artist and gumnuts are its artworks. As a trained sculptor, I can only dream of carving with such skill, to produce these perfectly shaped wooden sculptures.

“The Eucalyptus tree does it naturally, after practicing for over 100 million years to get these shapes right,” she said.

The toughness and durability of the gumnut, Cardoso says, is integral to her concept. Made of solid hardwood to survive fire, floods and other weather conditions, they are the perfect material from which to make art that can be enjoyed for hundreds of years to come.

“Some plants protect their seeds inside of soft fruit. But this is Australia, where resilience and toughness are striking characteristics of our environment, our history and also contemporary culture. To me, the gumnut is the perfect symbol of what it means to be Australian,” Cardoso said.

One of Latin America’s most celebrated artists, Cardoso was born in 1963 in Bogota, Colombia, and studied visual arts at the Universidad de Los Andes.

In 1987, she won a scholarship to study at the prestigious Yale University Art School, and moved to the USA, hoping to discover a safe place to call home, away from the violence that had plagued her native country throughout her youth.

It was during her time at Yale that Cardoso first married a lifelong fascination with science and nature, with her artistic endeavours – setting the scene for a career inspired by the intrinsic forms of animal and plant life, and defined by her unique ability to represent this natural world back to audiences in unexpected ways.

During the early 1990s she lived and worked in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and in 1997 moved to Sydney with her Australian husband.

Maria Fernanda Cardoso is represented by Sullivan+Strumpf Gallery, Sydney.

The artworks are on display at Frankston Arts Centre until 23 April as part of the Ventana Fiesta – Frankston City’s much-loved Latin arts festival.

Ventana offers a diverse range of intimate and authentic experiences through dance, music, food, art, crafts, film, and educational workshops. 

For more information about Ventana, please visit https://artscentre.frankston.vic.gov.au/Whats-On/Ventana-Fiesta