A post where I am surrounded by boxes!

I have been quite absent from here the last few weeks. I have been so busy that I have taken today and yesterday off from everything, doing just what I want to do to catch up with myself. It is birthday season for me, so there have been lunches and dinners and catch-ups. There has been a wedding, the ballet, gallery visits ~ and I’ve loved every minute of it!

I have done a little creative work, and my newsletter readers will have seen the capsicum. (Feel free to sign up to my fortnightly newsletter ~ and receive a free, downloadable ink feather drawing ~ by clicking here.)

And then there was the emptying of our storage pod. We have had it for quite a few years (I am not getting more specific than that cos it is too embarrassing 😨), while we were supposedly working on getting the hallway painted. The hallway is still not finished 😱 but it was time to close the door on the storage.


Last load!


All out ~YAY!

Consequently I am swamped by boxes of stuff. Feel my pain when you look at the photos (cos it is easier to take pictures than deal with the mess!)

Tucked away in there are a few chairs, a little cabinet, a big cabinet, a couple of boxes labelled ‘ornaments’ and my old easel, but most of it is books and other papery things. There must have been at least twenty boxes of books.

So now the sorting begins. What stays, what goes to the op-shop, what gets given away, what gets recycled, what goes to the hard rubbish collection (hopefully very little). Of course I have a plan for that, created with coloured pens and inks 😊.  It’s the doing that will be the hard part!


Already there is a problem with the books. Because the hallway is not finished I can’t put the books into the bookshelves that will go into the hall. There is no room in any other bookshelf, so those boxes have to stay for a while. First step is going to be the hall.

Also I am going to set up the Anne Archive. There was treasure buried in some boxes, in the form of old letters and cards, from friends, family, kids I taught. There are newspaper cuttings I kept for some reason, old photos, a bundle of pay slips, my dog’s leash……you know the stuff. So I have a cunning plan (“A plan so cunning that if it had a tail I would call it a weasel” to quote Blackadder!) where I am going to sort all this stuff, keep what is worth keeping, group it and file it away in folders.

But the really cunning part is that to each folder I am going to add a note telling the story of why this was important to me. The story should put the bunch of old letters into a context for whoever is looking through the Anne Archive at a (much) later date. I am assuming that will be my nieces and nephews, who might have a smidgeon of interest in my life.

How’s that for a plan?!! At least I can take my time with it, and it will be more interesting than doing the housework!


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The Exhibition is Open!

Some of you have been following the progress of Beckler’s Botanical Bounty for years, from the first visits to the outback town of Menindee, through my paintings of the plants I found there, to working on things for the Exhibition of our work at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. For those of you who are newer to my blog I will give you a couple of links to bring you up to speed.

A collection of posts about my involvement in the project Beckler’s Botanical Bounty.

The website of out project, which has condensed versions of who we are, what we are doing and who Hermann Beckler was and why he is important.

My newsletter subscribers have seen a little of what I am about to show you in this post. Click here if you would like to get my free, fortnightly newsletter.

Our Opening was Saturday of last week, and I didn’t stop smiling for the whole day!


I was moved to tears when I first walked into the room of our exhibition. It looked so beautiful! Someone said later that it was like walking into a science book. Another said it was like the environment of the Menindee area ~ you were encouraged to look closer to see the treasures that were hidden in plain sight.


My first glimpse, and then with lots of people from the Opening…..


Photos don’t do justice to the paintings. Botanic art requires fine details, often microscopic, to be shown, as these can be the identifying feature. However, the following gallery of photos will give you a taste of what a selection of the 40 paintings are like. (Apologies for the poorly cropped photos.)

But let me be a real show off and give a full photo to my three paintings! (Well, it is my blog!!)


The Project has had four themes going through it ~ Art, Country, History and Science. We wanted to reflect those themes in the display too. There are four plinths in the centre of the room, each showing artefacts to illustrate the theme.

The actual Opening was great fun. There were about 300 people there, all excited about the Exhibition (but probably not as excited as me!). So many people that our speakers, including Prof. Tim Entwisle, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Victoria and opening speaker, were just heads above the crowd.

As well as the Welcome to Country we had a Smoking Ceremony that cleansed all who laid a gum leaf on the smouldering fire. I felt very blessed to have been involved.


The catalogue of the Project had taken a lot of time from a lot of people. It was worth it, because now we have a very elegant record of the Project and the paintings in the Exhibition. They sold like hot cakes at the Opening.


Over 20 artists have been involved since 2010, the beginning of all of this. There has been a range of artistic abilities but it was always our intention that each artist would have the chance to have at least one painting exhibited, and every exhibiting artist is included in the catalogue. So, let me show off some more and post my spread!


My biographical piece in the catalogue


The accompanying image of my painting of Cullen pallidum

And finally…..one of the joys of the Opening was that my Mum was able to be there. (You can spot her in a few of the photos!) And my regret that my Dad wasn’t there. Mum is 91 and has always been my strongest supporter, in everything I have done.  She has followed my travels to Menindee and all my art that has flowed from the trips. Today I opened a card she had sent me, and what she wrote shows you why she is such a special person.

Dear Anne,

What an amazing time we all had last week at Ballarat! How proud we are of you! This has been a great journey for you, and we hope, that whatever art road you choose to travel, you have much enjoyment and adventure.

Who knows where your many talents are going to lead you ~ but you do know that your family is behind you always!

Much, much fond love, dearest Anne


So, if you are any where near to Ballarat, or know of someone who is, the details are

Beckler’s Botanical Bounty: the Flora of Menindee

at the Art Gallery of Ballarat (the link will give you directions)

on now until May 27th


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Beckler’s Botanical Bounty: The flora of Menindee


This is the very elegant hero image for our exhibition Beckler’s Botanical Bounty: The flora of Menindee.

The Art Gallery of Ballarat

Saturday 24th February to Sunday May 27th

Yes, it opens in just over a week……I am so excited! I can promise you photos galore.


On a different note, my newsletter goes out today. This time I am writing about making art on commission, as well as links to other things going on around the place. So click here if you would like to read it (if that link doesn’t work you might be a little early, and have clicked before the newsletter goes out) and click here if you would like to subscribe.

And lastly here, Would you like a free drawing? to find out more about the newsletter.

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18 in 18

This year I am intending to broaden out my horizons by doing different things. You can check out the list in the original post. They are not wildly adventurous things ~ I am not intending to do 9 different types of extreme sports. In fact sport of any stripe doesn’t get a mention! The intention was to extend the range of activities that I already do, to make me think outside the box.

And that’s how it turned out in January. Here’s an update of what I have crossed off the list so far.

I’ve had one (out of four) short trips away, to stay at the delightful, but busy, seaside town of Lorne, along the Great Ocean Road. Magnificent views, and very steep hills!


I’ve made one (out of five) things for other people. My friend Denise and I had a delightful afternoon making cushion covers for her dining chairs. My help was also her Christmas present 😊

It has been rather hot to have the oven on, but I did get a plum cake cooked. That’s one cake (out of 8) cooked. Looks fancy with the icing sugar, and it tasted okay too.


Looking for music has made me aware of the music around me. I have found one and have leads I wish to follow up, to make up my nine for the year. I may even surpass my target. Any suggestions? Darlingside was the group I came upon. I love the fiddle mandolin they use. If you like them too, do read about them on their website. It made me smile.

I am a fifth of the way through reading ten biographies or memoirs. But that’s not surprising, I am an avid reader. (I am going to post about my favourite books from 2017, hopefully before 2018 ends!)

Woman on the mountain by Sharon Munro was one of those books you read at a holiday home. The title sums it up….she lives an isolated, sustainable life on a mountain in the Australian Alps. She writes charmingly about the wild life around her, including the snakes, about bushfires and solar panels and how she got to the mountain in the first place.

In Four quarters of light Brian Keenan was searching during his four months of travel through Alaska for an answer to how wilderness impacts on people, especially their inner life. What does wilderness teach us about ourselves?

My intention when I decided to visit 12 art galleries and exhibitions during the year was to extend my knowledge of galleries, with an eye to finding some that might want me to exhibit. The two that I have visited aren’t new ones, but, hey, I make the rules, I can break the rules. I went to the Incinerator Gallery to see an exhibition of quilts put on by the Essendon Quilters, a local quitting group. The was other Romancing the Skull at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. I blogged about it here.

I am on track for movies ~ two out of 13. 3 billboards outside Ebbing Missouri and The Post. Both highly recommended.

The hills in Lorne were certainly different places to walk, and I also walked around Carlton admiring the terrace houses and then to Royal Park. So two out of 14 done. Wth this category I want to explore new places, the places that I have thought “I must go and walk around there” but never quite made it. I hope to knock a few (well, 12 more!) off the list this year.

Visiting 16 different places is another one to make me go beyond what I know. So I took the 96 tram to St Kilda. Not a big adventure, but now I know what the houses that I see so often from the car look like from behind.

Sketching outdoors can make you feel rather exposed as passerbys can, and do, look and comment. Usually it’s positive, like the guy in the coffee shop who said “You’re an artist!” I hope I got the punctuation right and he wasn’t saying “You’re an artist???” So, to have sketched in public three times is an achievement. I did some sketches down at Lorne, once in a cafe and then with my friend Janey at the NGV, along with about 100 other people! They were all following the lead of the artist while Janey and I did our own thing. I found this imperious chap.


Lastly, my letter writing. I sent off some postcards just before New Year, so I am not counting those. However, I have sent off 3 cards and letters, only 15 more to go. 💌

So, off to a good start. Now to keep up the moment and not let these things drown in the sea of ordinary life. How are your goals going? Still active or going under?!


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Skulls have been a theme for me lately

It’s partly just co-incidence but I have seen a few skulls lately. Let me be quick to reassure you…not real ones! Artistic ones.

Firstly I was at Victoria’s premier gallery, the NGV, to participate in a drawing session. More of that another time. Towards the end of the session I wandered into the next room where enormous skulls were heaped up. Ron Mueck has created 100 large scale sculptures of the human skull.

The Gallery’s brochure says:

…the work can be read as a study of mortality, recalling the Paris catacombs as well as the mass graves resulting from human atrocities in Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica and Iraq.

They are part of the Gallery’s Triennial exhibition, a truely amazing experience. And a very successful one. The Gallery has been packed with people all the holidays.

My second experience with skulls was at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, another of Victoria’s top galleries. I was up there to have the meeting about our exhibition, “Beckler’s Botanical Bounty: The flora of Menindee” opening late February until late May (shameless plug!). After the meeting I went into “Romancing the Skull”. No prizes for guessing it was an exhibition devoted to skulls in art.

The exhibition explores a range of themes including the skull as a reminder of our mortality, the use of the skull in addressing social and political issues, and the skull and crossbones as a symbol of piracy and rebellion.

If you are quick, you can see the exhibition before it closes on this Sunday 28th.

The variety of pieces was astonishing. I now have a little understanding of the what it takes to put on an exhibition, and I am flabbergasted at the work that must have gone on to pull all these works into one coherent display. These were some of my favourites….

Sam Jinks: Divide (Self-portrait)

I am not sure who created these glass coffins, but my friend Mali Moir and John Pastoriza Pinol created the beautiful, botanic skulls below by painting on vellum. (They are sitting in glass domes.)


And Louise Saxon’s amazing work, Vanitas #2 ~ The Twitcher. I have written before about another exhibition of her work. She constructs her pieces from textiles and pins them into place.

And lastly, the one above is Dale Cox’s work Deadlock.

Well, not quite lastly, because here is one for the quilters amongst us….


It is Lucas Grogan’s The Shroud, and is, according to the wall label, a diary of his travels through Europe, inscribed with his personal impressions and experiences. Curious!

So many different ways to interpret our mortality. Thought provoking, but also beautiful works, and at times quite humorous. Would you have gone to an exhibition featuring skulls?


On a lighter note, a reminder about my fortnightly newsletter. I have begun to send it out again this year, and the first one for 2018 had special offers only available through the newsletter. So if you would like to find out more sign up.

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Beckler’s Botanical Bounty: the flora of Menindee

It’s a while since I wrote anything about the Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Project that I am involved with.

Very briefly…..I am part of a group of botanic artists who, since 2010 have gone annually to Menindee, a small town in outback new South Wales. We are collecting and then painting the specimens collected by Hermann Beckler, the doctor on the Burke and Wills Expedition, in 1860. Our website will give you a good overview while you can read more about my personal experiences on these posts.

As well as collecting and painting all 120 plants on his list, we have always had the dream of having an exhibition of the Project. Last year (or was it 2016?) we were accepted by the Art Gallery of Ballarat!

Since then we, with a big input from the fabulous staff at the Gallery, have been busy with the tasks needed to get the Exhibition up.

  • 40 paintings have been selected, scanned, mounted and framed
  • 4 cabinets with objects showing our themes of Art, Science, History and Country have been organised
  • Essays have been written for the catalogue, along with artist bios and statements about their plants
  • A slide show and narration (including bird song from the area!) has been produced. It will show in the smaller room off the main room.
  • Our Opening has been organised
  • Publicity is well underway

Now, we are about 5 weeks away from the Opening!!!!

So, if you are in Victoria (Ballarat is only an hour’s train ride from Melbourne 😉 ) organise some friends to come to see the Exhibition.  And if you can’t make it tell a friend who lives a little closer. The cafe in the Gallery is very good too!

Beckler’s Botanical Bounty: the Flora of Menindee

25th February to 27th May 2018

Art Gallery of Ballarat


Detail of my Menindee plant ~ Cullen australasicum


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Wishing you joy

I suspect that there are many of you who, like me, are rather glad to see the back of 2017. It was a year of trouble and strife, and sometimes the only way to stay sane was to turn off the news.

But of course there were many positives too. I loved reading your blogs about your gardens, your creative works and your general ramblings. Even the posts that were despairing about the world were coming from a place of humanity and a desire to see a better world than the one being built around us. In Australia we finally have marriage equality and in Victoria dying with dignity legislation. And then there was the birth of my great-nephew Archie ~ sigh.

So thank you for helping me get through the year and for supporting my art in so many ways.

My wish for 2018 is that we all find joy. Let’s do it and celebrate the things that bring us that joy.

And more on next year…..

I am not a fan of setting goals. James Clear has good reasons why Big Goals don’t work. I am going to do something a little different in 2018, an idea that I have borrowed from Dr Snail over at the Snail of Happiness. Lots of you follow her blog (if you don’t, you should pop over and have a look) so you might remember her 17 in 17 list. She may have borrowed the idea from someone else, but following that trail is not on my to-do list today! I won’t explain the concept; my list should fill you in.

My idea is to include things that I want to do more of. For example, I always mean to get to the movies, but for some reason never quite make it. So now I am going to encourage myself to reach my target of 13. If I don’t make it, then at least I will have seen some. Some were easy to put against a number ~ 18 letters seems to be the perfect number. I am not sure about some ~ making even 3 garments might be a stretch, and baking 8 cakes or biscuits….well. I am allowing myself to put a couple together, such as sometimes combining the walk with visiting a different place.

So, here is my 18 in 18 list.

Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 4.29.43 PM

On Boxing Day we workshopped my list (don’t you love family involvement?!), which was great because people gave me suggestions; I wouldn’t have thought of a music one. Mum, who loves to record things, suggested that I use a book to keep track of what I have done. So I set one up, because I love to record things too! She also suggested that I illustrate it, but I’m pretty confident that’s not going to happen.


Every so often through the year I will tell you how I am going. Blogging about it will keep me accountable. And my Mum will expect updates as well 😊

What do you think about new year goals and lists? Some people, like Cathy, have words that keep them focussed for the year. What do you do? What would you put as #1 and #18?

Whatever you do, and how ever you do it, I hope your life is filled with people you love, and who love you back. May you find JOY.

Happy New Year Friends xoxo


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Playing, with purpose

I have been playing with fabrics this year, playing and stitching and fraying, to create abstracted tree tops.

I have been thinking of them as samplers, because then I didn’t have to worry about them being something real, something finished. There were smaller ones (10 x 10 cm) that I liked, larger ones (20 x 20 cm) that lacked tension and then 20 x 15 cm ones that I felt worked the best.

Then, I put a couple of the 20 x 20 ones together and thought “Hmmmm, how about three of them next to each other?” And they worked in a row when they didn’t work as singles. (Apologies for the terrible photo.)


I put batting behind each square


and then pinned everything onto the backing material ~ pins everywhere!


Then it was time to tack it all down


and hand stitch.


You can see that I have continued the running stitches between the two panels. It was needed to unify the piece.


Now, I can hear my quilting bloggy friends thinking “Ah, yes, I wondered when Anne would realise she was a quilter at heart”! There are certainly quilting aspects to this piece, and I have enjoyed putting it together.

I have a question for those quilters (and anyone else who wants to throw in their opinion into the ring 😉 )….. what do I do with the back of the piece? This is what it looks like, so you can see why it needs to be hidden. I am thinking of covering the back with the same fabric, but happy to take suggestions about something else ~ felt? I don’t want to machine sew it, and am sort of happy to hand sew it. But would some form of glue work? I don’t want it bleeding through to the front. Any thoughts very welcome.



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Sacred things

And just in case this morning’s reblog about Trump was too bleak, I am ending the day with this glorious post from Geoff Park. He captures the most stunning birds from Central Victoria. Enjoy!

Natural Newstead

This is sacred habitat.

Aulluvial-terraces Herb-rich Woodland in the Mia Mia, 9th December 2017

This is a sacred tree.

The nest site in a River Red-gum

This is a sacred hollow.

The hollow showing evidence of occupation

Meet the care takers.

Sacred Kingfisher about to enter the nest, 9th December 2017

The female above the nest site

Here’s the male

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One More Step Back Into Darkness …

Remember: Democracy dies in darkness

Sorry to post something like this first thing on Monday morning, but like Jill Dennison, I can’t let this go unnoticed. The links she makes from Trump to Fascism are all too close.

Filosofa's Word

You know how I sometimes say that a headline made me jaw drop?  This headline sent a very cold chill down my spine, and not in a good sort of way:

CDC gets list of forbidden words: Fetus, transgender, diversity

“The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden terms at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden terms are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”The Washington Post, 15 December 2017  

Vulnerable?  They are not allowed to use the word “vulnerable”??? …

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