This image is one of five photographs of Ilse Mathews at Monbulk taken by Tagen Baker on 7 August 2016 as part of The Invisible Farmer Project.

This particular images shows Ilse Mathews standing among white flowers at her production nursery.

Leaving behind their nursery business in South Australia, Ilse Mathews and her husband David relocated to Victoria and eventually found themselves investing in David's father's production nursery in Monbulk: Proteaflora. Now serving as co-Directors, they specialise in plants of the protea family, working with South African native as well as Australian native plants. Ilse speaks passionately about water issues, irrigation techniques, and nursery practices.

This photograph is part of Museums Victoria's Invisible Farmer Project Collection. The Invisible Farmer Project was the largest ever study of Australian women on the land, uncovering the histories and stories of Australian women in agriculture. It began as a pilot project (2015-2016) and evolved into a three year (2017-2020) nation-wide partnership between rural communities, academic, government and cultural organisations, funded by the Australian Research Council.

Description of Content

Woman in a red jacke.t standing in a field of white flowers.

Physical Description

Digital colour photograph


As a visiting research associate for Museum Victoria, and a PhD student in Utah State University's Department of Environment and Society, Tagen Baker had the opportunity to explore the diverse landscape of Victoria and interview and photograph women farmers as part of The Invisible Farmer Project-to learn from them about their histories, responses to climate change, and how they adapted their agricultural practices to sustain themselves and their families. Tagen wanted to know how their experiences have been similar or different to women in her home state of Idaho, USA. How have women been key agents of change embedded in their environments? How do women farmers provide unique perspectives and contributions to the futures of agriculture and to their communities?

As part of her research process, Tagen asked several women farmers if she could photograph them with an item of value. This item opened up a unique opportunity to communicate and learn about the farmers' lives. The item chosen was not only symbolic as a physical item of value, tangible and necessary, but a portal into a storytelling journey, a symbol of their rich and unique life experiences.

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