GLASS WILDERNESS

These photographs of the iconic Pyramid and Arc glasshouses at The Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney were taken in the last days before their demolition in May 2015. First built in 1972 to house the Tropical Centre display, they had become outdated and difficult to maintain, with the ineffectual climate controls not ideal for nurturing plants.

At the time of my visit The Tropical Centre had been closed for two years. What I found inside was an eerie, but beautiful, glass-covered wilderness, a once fully controlled environment now left abandoned and out of control. With ‘species of relevance’ re-planted elsewhere and climate controls switched off long ago, the spaces were dominated by weedy plants and trees, some that thrived and some that withered away and died - natural selection in an unnatural environment. Among the foliage and organic debris were fake trees that had shed their bark revealing white PVC branches, artificial rocks that were discoloured and graffiti tags on the upper walls, giving the ageing exhibit a wonderfully post-apocalyptic presence. 

The Tropical Centre display was clearly in need of modernization and in 2016 it will be re-born as a new, state of the art ‘biome’ that promises a more contemporary and engaging experience for visitors