A Gift for the Gardens from the Friends

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David Coutts, Margaret Steele and Judy West (Photo: Liz Kay)
David Coutts, Margaret Steele and Judy West (Photo: Liz Kay)

Very appropriately, the 19 June Thursday Talk on the Gardens public art management plan began with the handover of two paintings from the Friends to the Gardens. Mr David Coutts, President of the Friends, formally handed the two artworks to Dr Judy West, Executive Director of the Gardens.

In 2012 the Council of the Friends agreed to give the ANBG an annual gift of artwork, chosen from the Botanical Art Exhibition. The gift would be from and by the Friends and the work chosen would need to be representative of the Gardens. Two previous gifts hang in the Dickson Room.

At the 2014 BAG exhibition the Friends chose, in consultation with Judy West, a further two artworks. These depict a Hakea macreana and a Eucalyptus sp., both by artist Margaret Steele. Margaret has always been interested in art but has only recently worked on botanical art. When she began painting in the 1980s, she mainly did landscapes but often tried flowers.  She had her first experience of botanical art in 2009, with Jenny Phillips the well-known artist from Melbourne.  Margaret says: ‘I was a beginner and couldn’t believe that it took three days to paint a tulip.’  It was here she met Nilavan Adams who encouraged her to join the Friends Botanic Art Group, which she has found ‘a very happy and encouraging group.’

In 2010 Margaret joined Maria Boreham’s classes and has also attended workshops with other leading artists. It was with Maria’s encouragement that Margaret first exhibited in the 2011 exhibition.  She is thrilled that her works have been purchased by the Friends of the Gardens and very proud to know they will be displayed.

The four botanical artworks that the ANBG has now received from the Friends form a small but growing collection that make a very handsome presence on the walls of the ANBG.