The Collections Project with The Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium of South Australia, at the Santos Museum of Economic Botany
  • Research within the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium collections
  • Responding works exhibited within the Santos Museum of Economic Botany
  • One artist recipient or artist team
  • $7,500 artist fee (per artist or artist team)

Home to an impressive permanent collection, dating back 130 years, The Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium of South Australia’s Santos Museum of Economic Botany is the last Museum of its kind in the world. The recipient artist working with The Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium will have access to the Museum’s collection as well as having access to research staff within the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium collections.

Beginning in October 2021, the research period will allow time for an artist to create responsive new work for exhibition at the Santos Museum of Economic Botany for exhibition in early 2023. The resulting exhibition will be housed within the Museum’s contemporary artspace designed by the renowned South Australian designer Khai Liew. A printed catalogue, in addition to digital documentation of the project and its creative processes and outcomes, will accompany the exhibition.

For more information register for an Artist Talk and Call Out information session featuring 2019 recipients Laura Wills and Louise Flaherty discussing their Plant Notes intervention within the Museum, followed by a conversation with Museum and Guildhouse staff around the current call out processes, project outcomes and collection areas on Wednesday August 25 at 1pm. Book here.


One of Guildhouse’s key objectives is to promote contemporary visual art, craft and design. The Guildhouse Collections Project provides a unique opportunity for Guildhouse to promote our members to broad, new and diverse audiences.

The core aims of the project are to:

  • promote public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of visual art, craft and design
  • provide economic and artistic opportunities for creative professionals
  • offer professional development opportunities for visual art, craft and design practitioners
  • develop new and diverse audiences for participants
About the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium collections

The Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium manages living, cultural and preserved collections and through science and research improves understanding and appreciation of the botanical world. Our science underpins evidence-based decisions to inform effective legislation, policies, education, management and land use practices. In addition, it contributes to the knowledge economy, and supports the community’s resilience and sustainability.

The Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium engages with the wider community to share stories about plants and enhance understanding and appreciation of the importance of plants in sustaining life, and as a key part of cultural identity and social fabric.

In support of the Guildhouse Collection Project, the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium would like to invite artists to view our available collections through the lens of our developing Interpretive Masterplan and offer three key themes to explore and consider.

Theme 1: Humanity has an intrinsic fascination with and reliance on plants and nature
This theme explores humanities innate connection with the living world and reflects upon human reliance on plants throughout time and how plants may have the answers to our survival. Celebrating the broad cultural connections that reflect the diversity in our collections, this theme looks at plants as a key food source, plants as a source of medicine and the many cultural uses of plants including our First Nations peoples’ connections to country and understanding of its flora.

Theme 2: Our biodiversity is shaped by dynamic earth processes and intricate relationships between species
This theme explores the complex and changing nature of ecosystems. From looking at the ancient landscape shaped by climate, fire, continental drift and human impacts to exploring the important role of pollination as a vital life cycle process. This theme also explores the preciousness of water and the critical role that soil plays in a sustainable world.

Theme 3: The study of our flora continues to reveal fascinating things about plants, helping to provide real, practical benefits to our society and the planet
Evolution as we know is a never-ending process, operating on multiple timescales. Our knowledge is no different and this theme celebrates the critical role science plays in benefiting the community and highlights the importance of taxonomy as a fundamental scientific discipline.

Available collections

In the context of these themes the artists are invited to research and develop new work by accessing the living collections, the collections housed in the Museum of Economic Botany and State Herbarium. The artist will also have access to horticultural staff who curate the living collection and scientists and researchers from the State Herbarium.

The BGSH Living Collection
The Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium is the custodian of a unique living plant collection, representing 128 countries from around the world and housed across three gardens Adelaide Botanic Garden , Mount Lofty Botanic Garden and Wittunga Botanic Garden:

Adelaide Botanic Garden
Adelaide Botanic Garden was opened to the public in 1857 and is said to have been influenced by British, French, German and Dutch styles, which are reflected today in the heritage of the buildings and landscapes. Many of the glasshouses grow collections that provide access to plants rarely seen in South Australia such as the Madagascan Collection in the Palm House and the South American plants displayed with the Amazon Water Lily Pavilion.

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden
A cool temperate Adelaide Hills garden, Mount Lofty was opened to the public in 1977. It now holds a wide selection of exotic taxa and natural stands of Stringy Bark woodland, an icon of the Mount Lofty Ranges. As well as Australian natives it takes advantage of the cool moist climate of the Adelaide hills to grow exotic and rare collections of Rhododendrons and Magnoliaceae.

Wittunga Botanic Garden
Wittunga Botanic Gardens was opened to the public in 1975. Originally a private garden established in 1902, it displays and compares Western Australian and South African floras such as the Kwongan and Fynbos floras respectively. The garden holds many Western Australian trees and large shrubs, many associated with the Ashby family, the original owners. The garden also includes plantings of Alison Ashby’s legacy as a famous plants person and botanical artist.

Santos Museum of Economic Botany
Home to an impressive permanent collection, dating back 130 years, the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium’s Santos Museum of Economic Botany is the last Museum of its kind in the world. Since its inception in 1881 the Museum has housed a rich collection dedicated to the interpretation of ‘useful’ plants. In essence the economic botany museum underpins the economic, environmental, social and cultural fabric of all societies. Even the development of synthetics and alternatives to plant-based solutions in fibre, medicine and construction has been and remains significantly influenced by innovations and models derived from the natural world.

The collection is vast indeed. From a fragment of linen from an Egyptian mummy made from papyrus 600 years before Christ to the uncanny perfect replicas of fruit, mainly apples and pears made from papier mache and hand painted by Arnoldi and Co in Germany between 1866 and 1890. There are many things to explore and discover here.

The Herbarium Collection
The State Herbarium Collection is composed of preserved plant parts or samples that are used to support the taxonomic research of the Herbarium’s staff as well as national and international associates and students. In addition, the collections form an evidence base of species presence in particular places at particular times for use by the South Australian community and to meet state, national and international research goals.

Available collections through the State Herbarium Collection consists of:

  • Vascular plants (pteridophytes, gymnosperms and flowering plants). The vaults have over one million preserved herbarium specimens which continues to grow by around 10,000 specimens per year.
  • Bryophytes (mosses, hornworts and liverworts) containing specimens from world-authoritative bryophyte taxonomists.
  • Fungi (mostly macro-fungi and non-pathogenic forms). The Herbarium holds the comprehensive and globally significant fungi collection of Sir John Cleland
  • Lichens
  • Scientific illustrations, documentation of specimens including digitisation (imagery)
  • Significant map and rare book collection
The following activities will be undertaken by the recipient

Research, development and production of new work will be undertaken over an extended period. This will enable the selected artist/s to produce well considered, high quality creative outcomes that reflect their extensive engagement with the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium. The activities undertaken during this period will include:

  • consulting and interacting with specialist BSGH and Guildhouse staff
  • accessing collections relevant to their area of interest
  • developing and producing new work appropriate to their research

Both BSGH and Guildhouse feel it is essential that selected artists take full advantage of this research opportunity in order to produce innovative and complex work that thoroughly engages with their area of interest

The Exhibition
The new artwork produced will be presented with the gallery space in the Museum of Economic Botany in March 2023.

Guildhouse will commission professional documentation of the work and/or exhibition for the purpose of promoting the artist, their work and the program.

Public Programs
A program of artist talks and community engagement activities will be developed in support of the program. These activities should relate to the ideas and creative processes associated with the project.

Guildhouse will conduct an evaluation process of the project to gain important information about the success of the program outcomes. Participating artists will contribute to this process by producing a short report at the end of their project.

Project Dates

Tuesday 10 August – Applications open
Monday 13 September, 9am – Applications close
Mid October 2021 – Successful applicants notified
October 2021 – Successful applicants begin research
March 20223 – Museum of Economic Botany exhibition

How to Apply

Proposals must include:

  • A completed application form, including your personal details, project details, a brief description of the project (30 words or less) and your preferred project period (if any).
  • A project outline (maximum 1 page only at 11pt font), including a brief description of your practice, your motivation for applying to the project responding to the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium collections.
    Please note, the project is intended to provide participants with the opportunity to undertake a period of research and development of new work and thus it is not anticipated that applications include details of the work to be produced.
  • A current CV (maximum 2 pages).
  • A PDF or PowerPoint of six (6) high quality images of recent work with artwork details, including title, date, medium and dimensions. (If applying as a team, four images per artist are allowed). *Applicants are asked to re-size their images to screen size before creating the PDF or PowerPoint.
Selection Process
  • The Guildhouse Collections Project 2021 is open to artists/artist teams who are Guildhouse Accredited, Allied or Associate Members. For more information on becoming a Guildhouse Accredited or Associate member go to:
Selection Criteria
  • Artistic Merit.
  • Strength of research and project proposal, including your interest in working with the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium collections.
  • Capacity to deliver the project proposal outcomes to a high standard of craftsmanship and in a professional manner.
Short Listing and Final Selection
  • Proposals that best meet the selection criteria will be shortlisted by Guildhouse.
  • Final selection will be made by a selection committee comprised of representatives of BSGH and Guildhouse.
  • Short listed applicants will be required to attend a short interview with the selection committee. Times and dates to be advised.
  • Successful artists will be notified by mid October 2021.
Artist Fees
  • Selected individual artists or artist teams will be paid a total fee of $7,500 (ex. GST).
APPLICATION DEADLINE: Monday 13 September 2021, 9am

Artists are strongly advised to discuss their proposals with Guildhouse staff before making an application.

Book a 30 minute Zoom or phone appointment with Guidlhouse Artistsic Programs Manager Debbie Pryor to discuss your application using the link below.

Appointments are available on:
Monday 30 August, 11am – 2pm
Wednesday 1 September, 3pm – 5pm
Thursday 2 September, 3pm – 5pm
Friday 3 September, 11am – 1pm
Wednesday 8 September, 9am – 11.30am

If these appointment times are booked out or unsuitable, please contact Debbie on 8410 1822 or to set up an alternative time.

All enquiries regarding The Guildhouse Collections Project application process should be directed to Guildhouse.

View the application form here.

Images, L-R: Kath Inglis, of uncertain value (installation view), 2019, photograph Daniel Marks.