Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Art of Botanical Illustration Exhibition 2014 including Beverley Lewis's 'Separation Tree' artwork.

Botanical Art Exhibition 2014

About a month ago I was contacted by the convener of the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne in relation to completing some writing to accompany some botanical art for an upcoming exhibition. I was quite excited about the prospect as writing an accompaniment for botanical artwork was a new prospect for me.

The artwork about which I wrote was an illustration of the 'Separation Tree' in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. The artist is Beverley Lewis and the illustrations were done using graphite pencil. Seeing the art in person was amazing. Beverley emailed me some jpgs examples of the illustrations but I didn't realize how large (almost a 90cm high) and incredibly detailed they were until I saw them at the exhibition.  The Separation Tree tree has been the subject of some of my writing in the past and I've visited it on several occasions. I kept the writing to a few small paragraphs (see the finished product below). It is also interesting how the location of the exhibition mirrored certain details about he separation tree's history namely;
  • The Separation Tree is named so because Charles La Trobe made the proclamation of Victoria's split from NSW and the exhibition was next door to Charles La Trobe's cottage
  • The plaque under the Separtion Tree which briefly describes its history was unveiled by Sir Reginald Dallas Brooks and the exhibition was held in a building on Dallas Brooks drive.
In addition to Beverley's work there were 137 other spectacular pieces of art on display and all were for sale. They ranged from graphite pencil to pen and also watercolour. Another artist with work on display at the exhibition was Craig Lidgerwood. I've known Craig for a couple of years now as he lives Macedon which is my hometown. Seeing his two fabulous watercolour paintings was a suprise as I didn't realize he had anything featured.

If you are interested in botanical art I recommend you go see the exhibition. It closes on November the 9th and is open 10am - 4pm weekdays, 10am - 6pm weekends and 10am to 4pm on Sunday the 9th of November. The address is Dallas Brooks Drive, Melbourne.

Below are two jpg images of Beverley's artwork. These pale in comparison to seeing the real thing. The level of detail and size of the illustrations must be seen with the naked eye to be fully appreciated.

Below is my writing which accompanied Beverley's incredible artwork


On the morning of the 15th of November 1850, Charles La Trobe addressed a large gathering to formally announce that Victoria would become a colony separate from that of New South Wales. He made the famous proclamation at the north-western section of the Melboune Royal Botanic Gardens, under a River Red Gum tree. 

On that sunny spring day the newly established turf in the Botanic Gardens was an ideal location for a celebration. Perhaps this River Red Gum’s established size was a natural focal point for La Trobe to make his announcement or maybe it merely provided shade from the sun. Whatever the reason, this tree, through circumstances favourable to both location and time, made its way into the state of Victoria’s history and is now locally known as the ‘Separation Tree’.    

The Separation Tree is 24 metres high and its trunk has a diameter of 1 metre. It is estimated to be between 300 and 400 years old which means it predates European colonization. The site of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne was an important meeting and gathering place for the Wurundjeri people and other clans of the Kulin nation. As such the Separation Tree holds significance as a witness to Melbourne’s pre and post-colonial history.

           Alexander Krasovskis 

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne (undated) Aboriginal Resource Trail Teachers Kit, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne website.

Fagg, P (2012) ‘The ‘Separation Tree’: past present and possible future’ in The Victorian Naturalist, Vol 129 (4).


The sign just outside the entrance to the exhibition with Charles La Trobe's cottage in the background

I visited the actual Separation Tree after the exhibition.


Beverley Lewis's website 

Exhibition website (whilst it is still up) 

Craig Lidgerwood's website