Chrysalis . . . Sarka Cibulcova’s art is about looking giving nature a closer look.

Sarka Cibulcova is asking people to look more closely at nature with her solo exhibition, Known and Unknown Nature.

“My childhood was always close to nature,” Cibulcova said.

Growing up in the town of Valasske Mezirici in the Czech Republic, she found being outside was a vital part of her everyday life.

She loved hiking and walks among the trees, and preferred sleeping in a tent or the open air – something she had continued doing as an adult.

While completing a degree in animation at Tomas Bata University in Zlin and a master’s degree in fine arts at the University of Ostrava, nature was a force that drove her art.

And it was no different in Known and Unknown Nature

Her large-scale pastels depict close-ups of a koru, a caterpillar, a chrysalis and a butterfly.

“When I go outside I always look at the details.”

And she wanted her audience to do that too, perhaps by looking at the wrinkles of a caterpillar or an unfurling fern.

Her sculptures asked for the same thing.

During her walks through a garden or forest she would use the elements around her to create a pattern or sculpture.

During last year’s lockdown, she used pine needles to stitch autumn leaves together and plaited tussock like hair at the Oamaru Public Gardens.

“I really enjoy the process,” she said.

“It makes me feel closer to the environment.”

She used only what she found, and left only what could be broken down naturally.

“I enjoy coming back and seeing what has been taken by nature.”

Her art strove to highlight the ephemeral nature of the environment.

“Plastic is something we created and we are leaving it in nature,” she said.

“Every day I feel bad that we are destroying the environment.”

Not being much of a “big speaker”, her way to communicate that was through art, she said.

She hoped her art would help people consider the natural world, look it more carefully and protect it.

“I’m trying to make people think about using what we can take from nature without causing any damage,” she said.

“We should respect nature as part of our lives.”

Known and Unknown Nature opened at the Forrester Gallery earlier this month and is on display in the community gallery until July 11.