Glass Wilderness is a photographic project by Chris Round, an ideas-based advertising creative who now mixes both advertising consulting work with photography. In advertising he has worked both as an art director and writer and later as a Creative Director.
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 First built in 1972 to house the Tropical Centre display, they had become outdated and difficult to maintain, with the ineffectual climate controls not ideal for nurturing plants.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.
Text and images © Chris Round