Plants are the New Children

Writing and Art by Juliette Baxter

Inspired partly by David Hockney’s artwork, as well as drawings by my sister, illustrator Sam Kenneally, this work investigates relationships between human and plant life. The title draws upon a book entitled The New Plant Parent, encountered at a bookshop in Byron Bay, which prompted my thinking about connections between the social media and gardening.

The artwork explores ideas about youth and parenthood, through a satirical lens. Today’s young adults, rather than having children, are focusing their nurturing energies on raising plants, specifically indoor plants. Previously, young people have treated their pets as children, however a trend of referring to themselves as ‘plant parents’ is emerging. Plant parenting is not mere gardening, as there is an added social media element to the practice. These drawings poke fun at this concept, imagining plants in the role of children, specifically babies, both inside and outside the home.

In these seven scenes, plants are placed in an array of everyday situations: sitting on a couch, being pushed around in a pram, playing at the park, being bathed, being fed in a highchair, read to in a rocking chair, and finally, tucked into bed. The scenes are rendered digitally to convey a sense of youthfulness, alluding to young people’s tendency to share images of their plants online, whether on Instagram, Facebook or even their Tinder bio. Thus, the drawings question why young people are motivated to raise plants, is it to seek self-fulfillment or to boast about it on social media?

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