What a time we are living in. As the COVID19 virus spreads over the world and we are forced into less and less physical contact with each other, I know many artists well placed to stay put. I mean, who amongst us knows an artist without a huge stockpile of art supplies??

Corona Virus
A coronavirus sketch from my journal

I’m not making light of the seriousness of the pandemic, nor do I overlook those who will suffer either from the disease, the loss of loved ones, the lack of human touch, contact and interaction, nor those who will suffer from others’ selfishness.  There will certainly be a lot more suffering before this is over. 

What can we do to stay healthy in mind as we have our movements restricted?

As a frequent social media user and firm believer in its powers of good, I see this as an opportunity to go large, explore the wider world from the confines of our homes.  So, I am sharing a list of some of my favourite online resources.

These can provide a springboard to ideas for art works, or education for yourself whether for professional development or personal interest.
From the BioDiversity Heritage Library

State Library Victoria digitised collection

State Library Victoria image pool

Bio-Diversity Heritage Library

Audubon society  National Audubon Society is a non-profit environmental organisation dedicated to conservation. Located in the United States and incorporated in 1905, Audubon is one of the oldest of such organisations in the world and uses science, education and grassroots advocacy to advance its conservation mission. I love showing people the State Library Victoria’s copy of Audubon’s Birds of America in our World of the Book tours.

HENI Talks is a non-commercial initiative produced by HENI, an international arts services business headquartered in London, working with leading artists and estates across publishing, print-making, photography, digital publishing, film and art research and committed to supporting art education and widening public access to art.

Ferdinand Bauer’s 1813 Banksia Coccinea from the State Library Victoria

OpenCulture brings together high-quality cultural and educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community, a centralised and curated resource.

The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, is the world’s leading museum of art and design whose collection spans architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, book arts, Asian art and design, theatre and performance.

The Met, New York


Rijksmuseum, The Netherlands

I’m finding I now have time to think and ponder on the question:

what sort of art do I want to make?

  • Art that is a reflection of nature and how I feel about nature
  • Art that has visual beauty
  • Art that uplifts the viewer AND the maker

Making art has become vital to my health. When I don’t get to do it for a day or so, my anxiety noticeably increases, and there are more than enough reasons for anxiety to be high at the moment.

The simple, thoughtful, tactile act of using the materials makes me feel better, and I hope it will for you too.

AND finally, if you need some serious help to change your mood, play this up loud, stand up and MOVE!!


What is an Artist Residency?

First and foremost, it is an opportunity.  

There are different types of residencies available for artists (as well as writers and other types of artists, not just visual artists).  Broadly speaking, a residency is a chance to concentrate on your art away from the distractions of your everyday life in a supported environment for a specific time period.

The studio at the Gatekeeper’s Cottage

Some residencies are fee paying, some subsidised and some without any charge at all; in fact, there are some where the artist is granted a small stipend in addition to housing and a studio space in which to work. Some residencies are fulfilled in isolation, some in a community where the focus is on connecting artists and/or learning new skills. Local, international, government or privately funded, a residency can be a wonderful time of extending your practice whether it is in developing new directions or focusing on a particular project that needs some significant hours or taking classes to learn new skills.

Most residencies will have a fairly stringent and competitive application process and may take some time to achieve. It is advisable to do your homework about the residency you are planning to apply for.  Things to spend time thinking about before submitting an application can include:

  • what sort of arts the host tends to support
  • what sort of facilities will you need (work and personal)
  • who is providing the funding behind the residency
  • what other artists have taken the residency (can you ask them about it)
  • what is it you hope to gain from a residency
  • can you afford it (in $ and time away from home/work life)
  • will you need to apply for a grant to support yourself and the travel to and from the residency
  • are you prepared to wait/are you flexible in timing
  • research the location – no point applying for a residency in February in Finland if you simply cannot cope with cold weather!

The Police Point Artist in Residence opportunity is offered by the Mornington Peninsula Shire and facilitated by their Arts & Culture program. My thanks to Jane German and the team at Morn Pen Arts & Culture for their assistance.

Below are some of my works from my recent residency at the Gatekeeper’s Cottage at Police Point.

Further information on artist residencies can be found here:
Visual Arts Hub
Australia Council

Police Point Artist in Residence

The Gatekeeper’s Cottage

I acknowledge the Bunurong as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land where I am temporarily residing. I give respect to the Elders — past and present — and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

A long held dream has arrived in the form of two weeks of dedicated art time. Sharing this with my buddy in art Thea Bates is one of the most relaxing and inspiring times I’ve had in many years. We are both working at our art every day, going for walks, cooking and talking up a storm. Sharing ideas and methods as we’ve been planning since 2017 when we majored in painting together.

Point Nepean has had a mixed history since the colonisers arrived.  From the 1840s when lime burning kilns dotted the area to the many years that the quarantine station was operational; from the military cadet school with its weapons training areas to Operation Safe Haven in 1999 when 400 Kosovars were offered refuge here from the Serbian-Albanian conflict. You can learn much from the transcript of the Park Victoria audio tour of Point Nepean.

The beginnings of a large painting inspired by the rocks and the trees here at Police Point.

Now one of its offerings is a supported artist residency in the historic gatekeeper’s cottage. Dating from c.1888, the cottage was initially built for the quarantine boatmen.  Minor changes have been made to the building over time and an extension now forms the studio space. The entire cottage was renovated to heritage standards in recent years.

This is a nationally significant cultural heritage site located in the traditional lands of the Burin’yong-bulluk, one of at least six clans of the Bunurong who were part of the Kulin Nation of central Victoria. Known for thousands of years as a meeting place, this end of the Mornington Peninsula is known as having special meaning for women.

Inside a cave in the cliff face.
Remains of a pylon from the old quarantine station

My thanks go to the Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Arts & Culture team, especially Jane German. 

Feature Artist!

I’m thrilled to have been invited to be one of the feature artists for this year’s Art4All art show at Fairfield Primary School here in Melbourne (6-8 September 2019).

Now in its 22nd year, this is a weekend of art and fun for the families of the school community as well as for the wider community within Melbourne. I feel very honoured to be exhibiting there as the history of the show has some very well known names and wonderful artists – Mirka Mora, David Frazer, Anthony Breslin, Belinda Fox, Tai Snaith, and Kylie Sirrett, Kenny Pittock and Kate Hudson to name a few.

With fabulous art experiences for the whole family including dedicated ARTzone for kids to immerse themselves in 5 hours of creative fun, with expert led workshops changing on the hour.  There are also stalls selling craft and art, as well as yummy food. The Gallery will be open for all to see some fabulous artworks.

The above shows snippets of four of my eight works that are for sale at the show which opens tonight from 6-9pm, and is open tomorrow & Sunday from 10am – 3pm.

Banksias & me

In 2014, I began volunteering at the State Library of Victoria as a tour guide.  The regular exhibition training is always interesting and enlightening; being a tour guide has widened my world further.  My favourite exhibition to show people through is the World of the Book, one-of-a-kind exhibition showcasing the history of book design, production and illustration.

One of the people I learnt about in that first year was Celia Rosser. At the time, the library had a couple of Celia’s Banksia works on display and it was a great pleasure to show them and talk to the public about her and her important work.  Part of being a library tour guide is that you are encouraged to go away and do your own research on items within the collection that particularly interest you.

Celia Rosser is an Australian national living treasure, in my opinion.

Born in 1930, Celia is an Australian botanical illustrator who, over 25 years within the Science Faculty at Monash University, completed a monumental series of works, The Banksias, which were published as a three-volume series of monographs containing watercolour paintings of every Banksia species.  The enormity of the accomplishment continues to astonish me.

Beginning the works in the early 1970s, the publication of the final volume in 2000 represented the first time that such a large genus has been entirely painted.

In in 1995 Celia was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia and in 1997 Celia was awarded the Linnaean Society of London’s Jill Smythies Award for botanical illustration. Monash University awarded her an honorary Master of Science degree in 1981, and an honorary PhD in 1999.

In 2018, Hamilton Gallery in western Victoria displayed, for only the second time ever, the full set of watercolour originals which made up The Banksias publications and on a wet May Saturday I saw them and was transfixed.

Since then, I have been reading about, drawing, painting and posting about banksias.

The hashtag #banksiafriday is a fun one to join on Instagram.

Recommended reading

George, Alex (2012) A Banksia Album: Two Hundred Years of Botanical Illustration, National Library of Australia, Canberra

Landon, Carolyn (2015) Banksia Lady Celia Rosser, Botanical Artist, Monash University Press, Melbourne

Nikulinsky, Philippa (1992) Firewood Banksia: Illustrated Native Flora, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, North Fremantle

From now on …

Although this site has been going for some years now, the posts have generally been about my relationship to and interest in art. It (the blog, not my interest in art) started when I first went to university, age 48, to study graphic design and media.  From now on, it will focus on my own art career.

Colour    ::    Line    ::   Pattern

These are the things that inspire me.  Pretty general I know, but I find fodder for my art practice from very diverse sources.  Architectural elements, decorative styles such as art nouveau, historical documents and natural history illustration, the natural (especially botanical) world, and often just the sheer pure joy of seeing a colour, and mixing and making new ones.

I am inspired by the constant overlapping of nature, science, music; the appearance of patterns in all these. And I find beauty in it.

I like to let the materials find their way, to replicate nature. Follow the accidental line; let it guide you. I paint intuitively, responding to experiences, visual stimuli and feelings.

 My journey

After graduating from university in 2014 (Bachelor of Arts – Media & Communication) with distinction, I realised very quickly that I was just at the beginning of learning about art.  So … I went back to study. Back to basics to a Diploma of Visual Arts. I really wanted to learn the skills of painting, printmaking, drawing; to learn about the materials and techniques involved in making art.  I had dabbled in watercolours on and off for over 20 years but never really had a huge desire to learn more.  I had enrolled in a few short courses over the years of raising my children, but having only ever had paid employment in office-type administrative work, the progression through a Certificate IV in Printing & Graphic Arts to the degree majoring in graphic design suited me at the time.

Fast forward through three years of part time office work and part time study, I have now participated in a few exhibitions and am relishing my time in the studio I share in The Nicholas Building in Melbourne.

The muddy Doves type

The murky story of the Doves Press, a tale of bitterness and vengeance.

It’s exactly 100 years since an elderly man carried out a shady act of determined vengeance against his one-time business partner. Over the six months from August 1916, Thomas Cobden-Sanderson, at dusk and in the dark, threw more than a tonne of metal type pieces into the Thames, just to stop it ever getting into the hands of the man who designed it, Emery Walker.

Embittered by an acrimonious dispute over ownership of the Doves typeface, which had been created by Walker at Cobden-Sanderson’s behest, and even though after the partnership dissolved in 1909 Cobden-Sanderson gained usage rights to the typeface for the duration of his lifetime, upon his death in 1922 it was revealed that the typeface had been ‘bequeathed to the Thames’.

The Doves Press had been established in 1900 by Cobden-Sanderson, then aged 59, and Emery Walker, ten years his junior. After a first career as a barrister, Cobden-Sanderson became a bookbinder at the urging of his friends William and Jane Morris.  Emery Walker, an engraver and printer, and collector of medieval books, was also a friend of the Morrises.  William Morris, of course, is well known as the father of the Arts and Crafts Movement, a term in fact created by Emery Walker when, together with Morris, he set up the first Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society.  Morris also started his own private press, The Kelmscott Press in 1891 for which he also created his own typefaces, Golden, Troy and Kelmscott.

The private press movement began in the late nineteenth century in response to the increasingly mechanised methods of book production wrought by the industrial revolution.  Traditional skills and jobs were being lost: punch cutters, typecasters, typesetters, printers, papermakers, bookbinders. Private press owners set about reviving the craft of making books using high quality ingredients: hand made paper, high quality ink, vellum bindings with gold tooling, and often designing their own typefaces. The Doves Press was a major contributor to the private press movement of the twentieth century.

Cobden-Sanderson wanted to create the highly desirable ‘book beautiful’, an ideal based on the medieval and pre-printing press era illuminated manuscripts.  The thing that sets Doves Press books apart from other private press offerings of the Arts and Crafts Movement is that there are very few, if any, illustrations within its pages, relying instead on the beauty of the typography and clarity of the printed page.

In 2013, East London graphic designer, Robert Green, engaged the Port of London Authority’s divers to search the murky river bed around the Hammersmith Bridge for the tiny pieces of type that Cobden-Sanderson had flung there.  After years of research and attempts to recreate Doves type for use in this digital age, Green knew he needed to try and find at least a piece of the original.  He found over 150 pieces.

Robert Green’s digital Doves Press typeface. Photo:
The fight over the Doves“, The Economist, December 21, 2013
William Morris and the Private Press,
“The ‘Other Man’ Behind the Private Press Movement”, BookTryst Blog
Doves Type,
Further reading:
BBC Radio 4 audio documentary, “An Obsessive Type: the Tale of the Doves Typeface.”

Luminous: Australian Watercolours 1900-2000

Hello art lovers!

Let me introduce you to a couple of Australian artists I knew nothing about a fortnight ago. That was when one of my art teachers, Tim Jones, took a group of us along to NGV Fed Square’s Luminous: Australian Watercolours 1900-2000 exhibition.

Australian modernist artist Frank Hinder (1906-1992) was born and studied art in Sydney before going abroad to Chicago, New York and New Mexico during the 1920s and 1930s. Hinder was one of the first to exhibit abstract works in Australia.

Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack trained under Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee at the Bauhaus, Germany’s avant-garde school of architecture and design in the 1920s. Having fled Germany in 1936 for England, Hirschfeld Mack was deported on board the Dunera in 1940 to Australia and interned as an ‘enemy alien’. After his release in 1942, he was appointed art master at Geelong Grammar, a position he held till his retirement in 1956.

I find both their works very dynamic, lots of movement; there’s a rolling gentleness in them. The first two works below, Frank Hinder’s Banksia (1938) and Hirschfeld Mack’s Story of a Shell (1940) have inspired the third image on the right which is my painting in homage, Banksia in gouache.