Please join is celebrating Ann Shelton’s exhibition A Lovers' Herbal at PHOTO OP. The artist will be present.

Ann Shelton’s A Lovers’ Herbal is rooted in ancient knowledge and grounded in our precarious present. The botanical specimens which appear in her wider series of photographs are contraceptives, emmenagogues and abortifacients historically employed to regulate fertility and for birth control – herbal remedies with potent properties sometimes known as “women’s herbs”. Those included in this exhibition are referred to as emmenagogues: substances that stimulate or increase menstrual flow.

The works’ titles – The Supermodel, The Influencer, The Diplomat, The Herbalist, The Sibyl – position these plant portraits as dynamic, empowered, feminised subjects. With their carefully positioned bodies striking elegant poses for the camera, these botanical arrangements are presented as archetypes with agency, yet also entangled in complex cultural systems of power, both contemporary and historical.

Shelton also draws attention to wider cultural uses of floral arrangement – in ritual, memorial, ceremony and celebration – prompting a reflection on the aestheticising relationship we have with plants.

The wider series jane says also references an eastern style of floristry promoted by Ikebana International magazine – particularly its heyday in the 1970s — complete with prominent studio lighting, minimalist composition and palette of saturated monochromatic backdrops. In doing so, Shelton also foregrounds the ways in which the creative practices of women have been aesthetically and culturally positioned, along with feminist movements influential during this period.

In 2022, women's reproductive rights remain a highly politicised issue. The overturning of the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling by the US Supreme Court this year gives significant cause for alarm, impacting the already precarious lives of countless women, trans and genderqueer people; their children, partners and families – a situation echoed in many other cultures. In a legal pivot closer to home, abortion was officially removed from the Crimes Act in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2020.

In this exhibition, we are invited to contemplate love and its lensing as part of complex, delicate and fragile ecologies.

PHOTO OP. would like to acknowledge the support of Two Rooms and Bartley & Co. Art.


  • Thu 17 Nov


  • 5:30 pm — 7:30 pm


  • Hosted by Skar Image Lab
  • 1 New Bond Street
  • Kingsland, Auckland