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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Lyn Gras' painting in the exhibition

Last year we ran a series of interviews with artists involved with the Beckler's Botanical Bounty Project. We hung many of those  paintings in our Exhibition in Menindee last year. Over the next few weeks we would like to show you blog posts of some of the finished works on display.


Lyn Gras loves the contrast between the plants in the arid area of Menindee and the Alpine plants that grow near her home. You can read her interview here, and find out why she became involved in the Project.

One of her plants was a billy button, Pycnosorus pleiocephalus. Lyn describes it as
....a small perennial with one to ten stalks, each with a yellow button on the end. It has small leaves that get smaller further up the stem. This species is special too because it has an extra flower 'bulge' out of some of the flower heads. It is the only one that does that.
Her delightful painting was hung in our exhibition. You can see how Lyn has composed her painting so beautifully, to incorporate her delicate microscopic drawings.
 Pycnosorus pleiocephalus Art work copyright: Lyn Gras, 2014
 A close up of her painting, showing the bulge unique to  Pycnosorus pleiocephalus
 Pycnosorus pleiocephalus Art work copyright: Lyn Gras, 2014
The painting, on the right edge of the photo, hanging in the exhibition.


Monday, 16 February 2015

Valerie Richard's painting in the Exhibition

Last year we ran a series of interviews with artists involved with the Beckler's Botanical Bounty Project. We hung many of those  paintings in our Exhibition in Menindee last year. Over the next few weeks we would like to show you blog posts of some of the finished works on display.


Valerie Richards has painted some of the eremophilas that were collected by Dr. Beckler. They are wonderful plants, commonly known as emu bushes. In her interview Valerie describes Eremophila sturtii and what attracted her to paint this dainty flower.

It has an absolute profusion of lilac, pink and cream flowers. It was these colours that attracted me at first. From a distance it looks like a green shrub. As you get to close to it you see the beautiful flowers. The impact of the colours was such a surprise. The shrub is symmetrical, attactive shape. It grows to 1 to 2 metres.
The full interview with Valerie is here.
Valerie's painting, the work in progress
You can see from the photo of her painting as it hung in the Exhibition (below right), her finished work included the habitat of E. sturtii, with the bush as well.

Left: Plantago drummondii; Right: E. sturtii (Art work copyright: Valerie Richards 2013)
By the time of the Exhibition Valerie had completed five paintings, the two above and three below. And they all looked stunning!
Left: E. deserti Right: Senna artemisioides subsp. x sturtii (Art work copyright: Valerie Richards 2013)
Arabidella trisecta (Art work copyright: Valerie Richards 2013)
Valerie's work hanging together 

Evelyn Brandt's painting in the Exhibition

Last year we ran a series of interviews with artists involved with the Beckler's Botanical Bounty Project. We hung many of those  paintings in our Exhibition in Menindee last year. Over the next few weeks we would like to show you blog posts of some of the finished works on display.


Evelyn Brandt loves the tiny detail of plants. Her microscopic drawings show us why botanic art straddles the artistic and scientific worlds and has such an important place in botany. Each magnified element of the reproductive parts helps to identify the plant while creating a wonderful work of art.

The full interview with Evelyn is here, but as a reminder, this is what she said about why microscopic work is so important:
At the moment I am really interested in microscopic work. I want to understand the important botanic characteristics that define the species. The key characteristic for this one, Chenopodium cristatum, is the perianth. This is part of the flower. There are 5 perianth segments that encapsulate the seed, which you can only see under the microscope. It is the characteristics of the perianth that define it and differentiate it from the other chenopodium species.
In the full interviewEvelyn details how she has developed her own process for doing such fine, detailed botanic art work.

Evelyn's work in progress


The painting of Chenopodium cristatum is not the only one Evelyn has been painting. In the Exhibition she had four works and each one showed her beautiful, detailed work.


L to R: Tetragonia moorei, Chenopodium cristatum (Art work copyright: Evelyn Brandt)
L to R: Centipedia cunninghamii; Casuarina pauper (Art work copyright: Evelyn Brandt)
And Evelyn's work hanging in the Exhibition
Hanging together (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)


Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Lorraine Looney's painting in the Exhibition

Last year we ran a series of interviews with artists involved with the Beckler's Botanical Bounty Project. We hung many of those  paintings in our Exhibition in Menindee last year. Over the next few weeks we would like to show you blog posts of some of the finished works on display.


Lorraine Looney, a Menindee resident, has been a stalwart of the Project. We interviewed her in 2013. The full interview is here, but this is a little, telling us how she came to be involved:
As a councillor for the Central Darling Shire I was involved with the 150 year anniversary of the Burke and Will Expedition. We had a reinactment. When that was over I saw a piece in the school news about the open days of this project [Beckler's Botanical Bounty Project]. So I had to come and have a look! Looking at what everyone was doing was fascinating. People were looking under microscopes and identifying species.
Each year I have come back to say hello.

 But she has more than said "hello". She has drawn one of the plants on Beckler's list.
One year I was encouraged to draw my own flower. It was Verbena africana -- the simple one! Mali gave me the choice of the verbena or the warrigal greens (Tetragonia tetragonioides). I chose the verbena because it was less complicated. It is a medicinal plant, so it interested me as well.
We were delighted that Lorraine wanted to exhibit her work in the Exhibition. This is her work hanging in the Darling River Art Gallery.
Verbena africana -- Artist: Lorraine Looney (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)

As Lorraine told us in the interview she is has a fascination for collage, creating images of the plants from the area using recycled materials. Her work attracted a lot of interest at the Exhibition.
Lorraine's collage of plants of the area (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Pressing plant specimens

After we have collected the plant specimens in the field, we have to preserve the ones that are going to the herbaria in Melbourne and Sydney. The group also has its own reference collection, and each artist keeps a pressing of the plant she is painting.

The plants are preserved by pressing. We are conscious that herbaria are short of resources and space and only want quality specimens. We try to collect plants in flower or with fruit as these are usually critical for identification.

The plant is laid out on two inter-weaved pieces of newspaper. We carefully spread out structures (i.e. leaves, flowers) so that diagnostic features are clearly evident and make sure that both the upper and the lower leaf surface are visible by turning over some leaves.
Stem of Cullen australasicum folded to fit the paper. It is a specimen with buds, flowers and some seeds. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)

The plant needs to be tagged next. The little jeweller's tag has the name of the plant, the date of collection, the voucher number (the voucher is our record keeping book), the year of the Project, and the name of the artist.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)

The same information is written on the edge of the newspaper. This is really helpful if we need to look through the stack for a particular specimen. It is much easier to read that information than open up each "parcel" of newspaper to find the one we are looking for.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
The plant is then ready to add to the stack of pressed specimens. Cardboard helps to give rigidity to the pressing.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

Some people have very fancy presses!



















Keeping track of what has been collected when and by whom is a daunting task. Amy, Mali and Valerie do a great job of keeping on top of things.


Over the week the piles of pressed specimens collect in the Hall......

 (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)

......and then they have to be transported back to Melbourne!

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)

For more detailed information about our collecting procedure, look at our Herbarium Specimen Collecting Guide.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Out collecting

The first days of our time in Menindee are often spent out in the bush, searching for the plants that we want to collect and paint. Of course, as we wander our attention is captured by other specimens, so quick outing into the field can end up taking much longer!

[Remember that we collect our plant specimens according to collecting guidelines. For further information, please see our page "Herbarium Collecting Specimen Guide".


Sometimes we went further afield, car pooling with a few cars.


But wherever we went we were reminded of the beauty, diversity and fragility of this amazing area.









Sunday, 2 November 2014

At work in the Hall

We set up in the Civic Hall in Menindee. Each artist has her own table -- or sometimes two! -- which becomes covered with microscopes, specimens, and all manner of artistic equipment from paint and brushes to backing boards and natty pencil holders.








Beckler's Botanical Bounty Exhibition

Another collecting and painting period in Menindee has come and gone. The highlight this year was the exhibition of our work in The Darling River Art Gallery in the Information Centre in Menindee.

We set the exhibition up on Sunday.
















The exhibition was of prints of our original paintings. As you can see, we uniformly mounted them in black frames with a black matt. That helped to unify the works.

This is how they looked up on the walls.




The Opening was on Tuesday. It was wonderful to see lots of people there. Margot Muscat was our Mistress of Ceremonies. As the representative of the Shire in Menindee, she is our liaison, and without her our project would not be where it is today without her. It is Margot who helps us with all the organisational matters, and definitely our Go To Person.

We were Welcomed to Country by Evelyn, who made a very moving speech. A couple of us spoke about the project, not only its history, but also the impact the area has made on us as artists. We always feel so welcomed when we come to town for our week in the Hall.


Then it was time for a cuppa, some fruit cake, lots of chatting, and of course, a closer look at all the art work of plants that grow in this amazing area.