Sometimes the less beautiful plants, the ones that don't catch our eye, are the ones that should be celebrated, artist Karen Richards believes.
Warrnambool-based Richards is in Wollongong with her exhibition of embroidered pieces titled flora non evidens, which opened on Friday night at the Wollongong Art Gallery.
It features Australian plants that are extinct, rare or endangered, embroidered onto large backgrounds up to 3 metres high, with larger plants taking hundreds of thousands of stitches.
And she has included some local plants, like the Illawarra greenhood, an endangered orchid, in her show. About one third of the Australian flora listed as critically endangered are orchids. Richards enjoys focusing on the more subtle beauties among the plants she has studied.
"Some of them are not necessarily the most spectacular plants ... but sometimes it's more insignificant looking plants that are even more rare and more poignant," she said.
Richards admits she is trying to pass on a message that's clearly pro-fauna, but knows herself that if an artist thumps too hard with the moral of the story, she will tune out.
"It's great to be able to make something that's quite beautiful.
"When you have an environmental message you really don't want to be hitting people over the head with it.
"Hopefully if you can lure people in the message will seep through."