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AnneLawsonArt Beckler's Botanical Bounty Botanic Art My art work

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!

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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.

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

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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!!)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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My biographical piece in the catalogue
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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

Mum

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 Botanic Art Uncategorized

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 ūüėȬ†) 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

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Detail of my Menindee plant ~ Cullen australasicum

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AnneLawsonArt Artists Beckler's Botanical Bounty Botanic Art My art work

An update on the Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Project

If you have been following my blog for a while you will remember the annual trips that the Fella and I make up to Menindee, a little country town about an hour out of Broken Hill. If you are new to the blog, or have forgotten let me briefly explain.

I am part of a group of botanic artists who go up to the semi-arid area of Outback New South Wales to collect and paint the plants that were found on the Burke and Wills Expedition of 1860. Dr Hermann Beckler was the collector as well as the doctor on the Expedition. Our Project began in 2010, and the Fella and I have gone up since 2011.

You can read my posts, which will give you more detail of the Project.

The Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Project means many things to me, such as a chance to explore a very unfamiliar environment, an invaluable learning opportunity, a great way to spend time with likeminded artists, as well as being an interesting holiday!

But I know that the Project is much more than that, We have always been aware that it has a place in history. It has brought Dr Beckler’s contribution to Australian plant knowledge to the fore. We collect specimens of the plants to sit alongside Beckler’s in the National Herbarium of Victoria, and each specimen has detailed records of habitat, soil conditions, GPS location and so on. This provides current data on plants that exist in the Menindee Lakes/Kinchega National Park area, data that, when combined with Beckler’s collection, could be very useful for longitudinal studies. It is a great example of how citizen scientists can contribute to scientific knowledge.

As well, it was always our intention to have an exhibition of our paintings. That is happening in February/March/April 2018 at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Organisation for that is currently ‘full steam ahead’.

My paintings from the Cullen genus:

And my painting of Pimelea trichostaycha:

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Now I am asking you to consider donating to the Project. All expenses, such as the travel to and accommodation in Menindee and art supplies, have been met by individual artists, something we have been very proud to do. The Gallery is very generously helping us with expenses for the exhibition, including the catalogue, curation and scanning. However, there are some things that we would like to find some extra money for, such as future publications to put the Project in its place in Australian botanical history.

We have set up a crowd funding campaign, that will run for another 50 days. If you would be able to help us, any amount will be appreciated. To find out more jump over to the Australian Cultural Fund page. If you email me at annebags@optusnet.com.au I can send you a PDF of the campaign.

https://australianculturalfund.org.au/projects/becklers-botanical-bounty-of-menindee/

Thanks for taking the time to think about this.

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AnneLawsonArt My art work

Some blatant advertising…..

On the blog I do mention my Etsy shop. However, I try to show you behind the scenes of my creative process ~ how I go about making the things that end up there (as well as a lot of other blathering of course!) But today I want to be more blatant.

If you are planning to buy any of my paintings and drawings for Christmas presents, and they do make unique gifts for people, then you will need to do so before the middle¬†of next week. If you are not in Australia that is.¬†I don’t want you anxiously waiting at the letter box for the parcel, so I am giving you a more comfortable buffer.

Let me explain. Usually I allow¬†10 days to reach somewhere overseas. If I set a deadline of 7th December, given a good run it should reach you by 17th December. But we know that postage will not run smoothly during December, so it may take a few more days. That will take it to the week before Christmas. Of course I make no¬†guarantees even if I post it then, but¬†if I post it later I can almost guarantee that you won’t get it in time.

And just so I don’t feel that this is totally blatant advertising, let me say that it will be same for most online deliveries!

Now to show you a small selection of possible gifts from the shop. All shown here are originals; there are a few prints in the shop.

Click on the photo to be taken to the listing.

(The paper they are painted and drawn on is actually creamy white, not the blue grey that seems to show up in these photos.)

Enjoy!

Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016
Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016
Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015
Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015
Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014
Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014
Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013
Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013
Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014
Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014
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AnneLawsonArt Beckler's Botanical Bounty Botanic Art My art work

More Senna painting

A couple of posts ago I showed you the plant that I am going to paint from my time in Menindee. It is Senna artemisioides subspecies filifolia. While I haven’t begun to paint it yet, I thought I would show you a little more of the preparation process, and some of the information I needed to collect before I came home.

This is the specimen I am painting

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and this is the finished drawing, done on tracing paper.

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Drawing on tracing paper (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2106)

A close up of the drawing. (Yes, I am also wondering how I am going to paint it!)

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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

As we collect specimens for the Herbarium we have to have very detailed notes about the environment of the plant. That information is recorded on a label that accompanies the plant to the Herbarium. You can see that precise information is needed. Beckler’s original collecting notes were often quite vague, with locality being something general like Lake Pamamaroo. Smart phones and GPS means that we can pin point our position.

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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

This senna has the most wonderful seed pods. The mature ones are rich mahogany and twist and curl as they open to spill their seeds. I am going to add a row of them below the plant.

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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)
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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

 

A key aspect of the plant is, of course, colour. It was important that I worked out the right colour (and recorded the mix!) before the colours of the plant faded. ¬†Sometime I am confident that I have nailed the colour only to find when I start painting that it isn’t right. These look pretty good now, so fingers crossed.

So, I have all the information I need to start the painting. All I have to do is clear off my very messy table and finish off a few other works in progress………

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The very messy work table! (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

 

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AnneLawsonArt Beckler's Botanical Bounty Botanic Art My art work Plants

It’s such a pretty plant

There were ten artists at Menindee this year, and we were able to find nine plants from Beckler’s list. (Not sure what I am talking about? Have a look in the category Beckler’s Botanical Bounty on the side bar. Sorry, but putting in links is a little too tricky on the iPad.) Fortunately one artist was happy to redo a plant that she painted a few years ago as this year’s specimen was much greener than the dried one she did originally. 

Finding nine plants is pretty good, as we are close to the end of the list. As well, we were without the botanist who has been invaluable in past years. Added to that, the season had been so wet and cold. 

My plant is Senna artemisioides subspecies filifolia. I wasn’t sure what subspecies meant, but found this information handy. It comes from Philip Moore’s “A guide to plants of Inland Australia” 

Some of the common Australian cassias [sennas] occur in large and very variable integrating populations called hybrid swarms which are maintained by asexual as well as sexual reproduction. Because of their complexity, they cannot be satisfactorily separated into species. Recent revisions have ….. reduced a number of variants which were formally regarded as distinct species to subspecies of two widespread species…

Sennas are very common through arid areas, and indeed when I see them in the Mallee country up the Calder Hwy I know that I am starting to get away from the everyday. They are a small bush with bright yellow flowers, like a buttercup. The flowers cover the bush, so they seem to be a moving mass of yellow beside the road.


Identifying my senna was a little tricky. The key identifying feature is that the petiole and pinnae are terete. The first step is to work out what that precise botanical language is saying in words I can understand! Terete is sort of like a cylinder, the petiole is the part that joins the leaf to the stem and the pinnae are like little leaves. The photo below is of the other subspecies, the one I am not painting. Can you see the flat parts of the leaves? That tells me it is not mine.


This photo is of mine


Not a lot of difference!

Once I had identified it, I collected some pressings to add to the collection for the herbarium. As well I took cuttings of the parts I wanted to paint. Then it was back to the hall in Menindee to begin my drawing. I have mentioned before that I dew onto tracing paper rather than the good watercolour paper. You always make mistakes, and rubbing ruins the surface of the good paper. After I have finished the drawing on the tracing paper I transfer it to the good.

It was a very complicated drawing, and took me two days to finish. Quite a few of the pinnae come forward and have to be drawn in a foreshortened way. They were hard! But I think I have captured it well. The plant seems to dance, and I want to make sure that comes through in the painting. I am hoping the fine leaves will make the painting easier! The photo below is of the drawing in progress. The photo above shows the whole specimen.

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Beckler's Botanical Bounty Botanic Art Plants Travels

Collecting our plants in Menindee

One of the delights of the Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Project is going out into the field to find our plants. The habitat here, in the arid areas of outback New South Wales, always looks so desolate. Driving along in the car all you see are salt bushes, Sennas and sometimes the white bobbing heads of daisies. 


As soon as you step a few metres away from the car you see a different world. Tucked away are little plants. Some are pretty like the blue wahlenbergias, some are stunning like the patches of Sturt Desert Pea. There can be swathes of purple swainsonia or poached egg daisies. 


There are many that you wouldn’t look twice at, or think they may be weeds, only to find out that they are little treasures. Believe it or not, this little one, nestled in the takeaway coffee cup, is actually a daisy.


So looking takes time. We wander around, with our heads down, admiring, wondering and identifying.


Then we take samples so that we can identifying the plants correctly in the hall. (We have permission to collect, and we collect according to strict herbarium guidelines, including only taking 10% of the population in the local environ.)

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Beckler's Botanical Bounty Botanic Art Uncategorized

Back in Menindee

Life was busy lately, organising the house and packing the van to get away to Menindee. Organising the house so that my friends could move in while we are away. But now I am up here. If you have followed my blog for awhile you will know that I am up here as part of the Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Project. I am part of a group of botanic artists who are collecting the plant specimens that were collected by Dr Hermann Beckler on the Burke and Wills Expedition of 1860. Our intention is to have paintings of each of specimens. We have been coming here for a few years now, so we are the pointy end of Beckler’s list. (If you would like to find out more, click on the Beckler’s Botanical Bounty category on the right hand bar. Normally I would give you the link, but it is a little hard to do at the moment.

Next time I will post some photos of us collecting in the field and working in the Civic Centre, but for now I will just give you some photos of the water. Menindee is in the arid outback region of New South Wales, near Broken Hill. Normally it is dry up here. Last year there were grave concerns about having any water in the Menindee Lakes system. However, the rain further up the Darling River is gradually making its way down, and now Lake Pamamaroo and Copi Hollow are well over half full. Lake Menindee will begin to fill soon. Recent rain in the area has added to the water, with big puddles and mud patches around. A most unusual sight!

Copi Hollow, over 60% full

Below is a photo of Lake Pamamaroo from last year, 2015.  The plant I collected and painted was growing about 30 metres from the sandy shore if the lake.


This is the lake now! 

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Artists Botanic Art Melbourne Odds and Ends Plants

Botanic illustration and flower painting

Jan McDonald, the Rare Books Librarian at the State Library of Victoria, uses two books from the collection to show the difference between botanic illustration and flower painting.

One book contains depictions of Australian plants collected by scientific illustrator Austrian Ferdinand Bauer. The other, by the decorative French painter of flowers Pierre-Joseph Redouté, captures the blooms growing in Josephine Bonaparte’s garden at Malmaison

And exploration of Australia played a key part in the creation of both books. Enjoy!

Jan McDonald on botanical books

[BTW can anyone ~ Meeks? ūüôā ~ remind me how to embed a video? I can’t seem to do it at the moment ūüė¶ ]

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Artists Botanic Art Odds and Ends

You and me

Lots of things have been bubbling away in my mind lately. You know some of my creative thoughts, but  also I have been pondering about the rhythm of my blog ~ what I want to post and how often. I think I have come up with a sustainable rhythm. It involves posting twice a week, with posts that I am describing as Me posts and You posts.

My Me posts will be the story of my life, mainly my creative life ~ the sorts of things that I have been rambling on about for the last five or so years! They will probably be published on the weekend.

The You posts will be ones that I think you will find interesting ~ links to other blogs, stories of others’ creative lives, quirky stories, environmental news. I have lots of ideas, but let me know if there is anything you would be interested in reading.

So today is my first official You post…..

Botanical art traditionally has been created with watercolours, but sometimes I come across an artist who achieves wonderfully detailed works using different media. Mary Delany is such an artist.

Mary Granville Delany (1700-1788)¬†bloomed in her 70s, when she embarked on her life‚Äôs work‚ÄĒcreating 985 life-size, three-dimensional, scientifically-correct botanical prints now held by the British Museum.

Her art work is created by cutting and gluing paper. Her life was quite remarkable, as you can read in parts 1 and 2 from laterbloomer.com

Mary Delany’s life Part 1

Mary Delany’s life Part 2

Enjoy!