Wednesday 28 October 2015

Interview with Jan,

What is it that attracts artists to this Project? How did they become involved and what delights them about the plant they are painting?

Jan is our first artist from the 2015 trip to answer some of these questions, and more, including the tribulations in finding her plant.

Why did you become involved in Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Project?
When Mali [Moir] outlined the project, my first thoughts were what a great project it was, covering art, science and an amazing part of Australia's history. Dr Beckler, working for Ferdinand Mueller, the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, contributed a great collection from this area to our herbarium. Wouldn't it be great to see if now, 150 years later, we could find the same plants.
What else is interesting for me is to see the impact on the flora of the area,from damming, sheep grazing, farming and general human impact. So far out of our 120 Dr Beckler identified/collected specimens we have found 78 survivors. 

What plant are you painting this year? What attracted you to this plant?
Andrew, our botanist, found a Convolvulus clementii from Dr Beckler's list. As I had painted Convolvulus remotes he asked if I would like to paint this one too. 

In a highly excited state Ros and I combed the GPS point where he had located it, 30 mins out of town on a corrugated road in blazing heat, smothered in flies but unfortunately returning home empty handed. Mali and Anne accompanied me to again look the next day. To my surprise we found poor little Convolvulus clementii struggling to make its way in the harsh conditions. The specimens were small and not well established, ie not representative of the habit of more well established C.remotes which twines itself around on nearby plants.

Poor little Convolvulus clementii struggling to make its way in the harsh conditions

Next day while I was painting Mali urgently called out from the back yard of the hall. Here in the garden bed of the hall was my dear little clementii doing what he should - sending long tendrils out in search of something to twine around - a much healthier specimen. 
C. clementii happily growing outside the hall
I had seen Convolvulus remotes on the footpath opposite the hall and thought I would look there too. Here was a tangle of clementii very healthy and completely rampant!! So much for combing the desert!
The rampant clementii!
A small piece of Convolvulus clementii, waiting to be drawn

I also will paint a daisy Asteracea Senicio lanibracteus. Classified as vulnerable in some areas, in Menindee it grows in abundance along the road sides.
The Senicio lanibracteus specimen ready to be painted
How will you go about painting it? 
Firstly I took photos of the plant in its habitat to show its habit. I then took close up photos of various parts of the plant, ie. root, stems, leaves and flowers. I have done some microscopic work on the seeds which I then drew on tracing paper.
I measured and drew the plant on more tracing paper. It is yet to be interpreted into a watercolour painting.

Drawing Senicio lanibracteus

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