Fierce Maternity at Sullivan + Strumpf

Fierce Maternity at Sullivan + Strumpf


I am pleased to invite you to Fierce Maternity, my upcoming solo show at Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney, Australia. The exhibition will be open to the public from June 9 to July 1, 2023.


When I was giving birth to my first child I had to have an emergency caesarean.  The anaesthetic wasn’t working properly and they had to cut me open to save my child.  I felt everything.  I knew then that I would do anything to protect my children.

I see in Eucalyptus woody gumnuts that same incredibly fierce maternal drive to protect their seed.  They will grow wood around them, sometimes for years and years, waiting for the right moment to release their seed into the world.

They need to protect them from pests, from the heat of the sun, from fires and droughts, and they use every ounce of their creative energy to do so.

I also see how they age.  Sometimes these gumnuts have been on the tree waiting so long to release their seed that they have turned green with mosses, or grey from sun exposure.  Just like me.

I feel like we are both the same kind of mothers: protective and creative.  Just like me.  

I love these  tough plants. They are survivors in a harsh environment. And I want to be tough and strong. Just like them. 


I think of Eucalyptus trees as fierce sculptors who work with wood.  I want people to admire their  diversity, their shapes, colours, textures and bio-geometries.  I’m astounded that these trees build amazingly complex and energy-consuming structures to protect their seeds. Just like us.

That’s why I find so much beauty and metaphor in Australian animals and plants. 

I have been working with gumnuts since 2008  after a wonderful trip to the desert, camping and travelling with the Tjampi Weavers, and my fascination with these life-forms continues.  

I hope that you too  can see the fierce beauty of life that is contained in these wondrous forms. 


Maria Fernanda Cardoso



9 June – 1 July, 2023
Sullivan + Strumpf
799 Elizabeth St
Zetland NSW 2017
Photos by Jillian Nalty
Video by David Varga