Susan Hauri-Downing ecoartist

The title of the installation is Sanctuary 31º S, 115º E. It refers to a sacred, protected place for typical native plants of the Mt Lawley area.

sanctuary Sanctuary 31º S, 115º E, 2005, Site: ECU Mt Lawley spacerPhotographer: Derek Kreckler
Three acrylic terrariums (68cm × 2.50m) facing each other in a triangular pattern, approximately 12 meters apart from one another, approximately 250 kg per piece.
Acrylic sheet, Bassendean sand, Native plants (specific to Mt Lawley), Plastic, and Stainless Steel.

Sanctuary 31º S, 115º E, 2005
My journey of discovery about my relationship with the land involves trying to understand and communicate the complex ecological contradictions surrounding contemporary land management practices.  People continue to create and accept alien habitats while at the same time recognising the importance of conserving native plants, animals and environments.

I acknowledge that my ancestors and I are colonial invaders. I am exploring the concept of the terrarium as a metaphor for the protection of native flora in Western Australia.

The terrarium is an artificial habitat that requires human effort to sustain. It can thus be an agent of protection, containment, transportation and display. The modernist technological processes involved in sustaining a terrarium contrast starkly with the natural processes that occur in undisturbed or differently managed Eco systems.

People can look but cannot touch. The plants roots cannot access the soil below the terraria and are therefore protected from the excess fertilizer that could kill them. However they are also imprisoned in these artificial habitats, separated from the ecosystem that would have supported them.

Making terraria enables some native plants to live in the alien environment that has been created.


current The grass tree used in this work has been donated, salvaged from a site which is soon to be bulldozed and developed.
bruce Bruce works in WA salvaging Grass Trees. Find out more about his work at: