Interview :: Jacqui Dean on ‘Translucence’

May 27th 2013

“You can learn a lot of things from the flowers”

Those singing flowers, Alice in Wonderland 

Jacqui Dean would likely agree with Alice’s floral orchestra. While many see only a flower’s outward beauty and dismiss them as mere fancy, Jacqui has looked within to the lessons they might impart.

In her first fine art exhibition, ‘Translucence’,  Jacqui shows us another aspect of the flower’s beauty using x-ray and digital imaging to illuminate their interior structures. These stark black and white prints of Australian natives are a sight to behold.

With so many ways to appreciate their beauty, from growing to gifting, Translucence reveals flowers as having a different personality. One we have never known…

The Flog’s Gemma Piali spoke to Jacqui Dean.


Gemma Piali :: What inspired you to create the exhibition “Translucence”?

Jacqui Dean :: Well the genesis of this exhibition came from x-raying some shells for a design for a building in Brisbane called Larapinta. It was an image that was 7 and a half by 3 and half meters so it was a pretty big image and it went onto the exterior of a building. It was successful and I thought I love gardening and it would be lovely to see the interior structures of flowers.


Are you taking the man made and infusing it with nature?

Yes, I suppose I am. I am also very passionate about music and I feel there is a strong correlation between the flowers and music. I think it’s the rhythm in the patterns and the colours. When I listen to music, I see colour. These are all black and white pictures though. They could be hand coloured but I prefer them as a stark black and white images.

What song would come from the images in your exhibition?

Well I love all sorts of music. I couldn’t choose a specific song. I am very passionate about classical music but I also like modern music. It is just a feeling.

What prompted to use x-ray imaging to photograph the flowers?

It was just the thought. With the shells, I used to have a German Shepard and my vet looked after her for some time. I had this inspiration and I asked him if he would help me.

With the flowers, my husband was very ill in hospital and one of his doctors was a very keen photographer. I spoke to him about the project with flowers and he organised for me to work with a radiographer.

Have you learnt a lot about radiology after x-raying flowers?

Only that photographing flowers is very difficult! But I did learn a lot .The tones that you have in a digital image are from 0 to 255 but it is 0 to 400 so what you see on the screen from an x-ray isn’t interpreted in the same way in Photoshop. That was quite in

teresting. I feel I really know as soon it’s done, whether it is going to work or not because they don’t all work. Some are too fine, some are too dense. I tried to do a King Protea, that is quite a magnificent flower but it just didn’t work.

Asiatic Lily

What are the best flowers to X-ray?

Heliconia, they are like a crab claw, they look absolutely stunning. Lotus pods, a Rose, you will have to come and see.

Did you source the flowers from your own garden?

I went to the flower market. Some are from my garden but the flower market flowers are really beautiful. They are pretty perfect. They have been grown in glass houses so they don’t have all the spiders and things in them that you get in flowers at home. The Agave and Hibiscus is from my garden though.

Do you have a green thumb and enjoy gardening?

I love gardening. I really don’t have time for the garden. Photography and gardening- if I just had those two and my music of course- I would be in heaven!


Are there areas, things or people in your neighbourhood you like to capture on camera?

I live in Epping and I’m working on a book about Epping because it is changing so rapidly with mac mansions going up and the landscape of all our suburbs are changing. That’s a project I’m working on now.

What wisdom would you pass on to beginner photographers?

When I’m teaching young students, I think as long as they get something about their self worth. I think as long as they can gain some confidence, I’m happy.

It is very difficult to get into the industry. It’s very, very tough but if you are good you will rise to the surface. What I would say to students is certainly to learn your craft you have to know the history of photography and you have to shoot as much as you can and learn by your mistakes.


WHAT: Translucence Exhibition by Jacqui Dean

WHERE: The Depot Gallery, 2 Danks Street Waterloo 

WHEN: May 28-June 8



Jacqui Dean | Gemma Piali


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