Halina Steele at Royal Horticultural Society

(Originally published in The Botanical Artist, Volume 21, Issue 4, December 2015)

In early 2014, I embarked on a project to exhibit with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in Malvern UK. Wanting to showcase the diversity and uniqueness of Australia’s wonderful native flora, I selected Australian Eucalyptus Mallees as my theme and chose Eucalyptus albopurpurea, E. kruseana, E. pachyphylla, E. recurva, E. suggrandis and E. synandra for their diversity, aesthetics, colour range and wall appeal. 

I was very privileged and fortunate to be able to paint Eucalyptus recurva (or Mongarlowe Mallee,) as it is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, the New South Wales Government Office of Environment and Heritage of New South Wales, and the Australian Government Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Occurring at just four known sites in New South Wales, the species was discovered in 1985 and formally described by M. D. Crisp in 1988. Survival of the Mongarlowe Mallee in the wild seems to be dependent on the survival of the existing adult plants. It occurs in habitat that has remained largely unaltered since European settlement with decline possibly being caused by environmental changes that are unfavourable to this species.

(References: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/determinations/eucalyptusrecurvaFD.htm; http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=11004.)

I went across to the UK hoping for gold but realistically expecting silver gilt. The end result far exceeded my expectations. Not only did I receive a gold medal but my works were awarded Best Botanical Art Exhibit. In addition, the Royal Horticultural Society purchased my illustration of Eucalyptus recurva for their permanent collection at the Lindley Library, London. The Lindley Library is the largest horticultural library in the world and in addition to the RHS' collection of paintings and photographs, its collection includes current and historical books, journals, archives and botanical drawings, and covers horticulture, flora, birds and other related subjects.

However, I would not have been able to achieve this wonderful result without the assistance of the following people who supplied me with plant specimens, information and photographs: Robert Gourlay and Wayne West (E. recurva); Neil Palframan and Dr. Richard Glatz (E. albopurpurea); David A. King (E. kruseana); Ian Coleman (E. pachyphylla); Neil Palframan, Dean Nicolle and William Archer (E. suggrandis); and lastly, Dean Nicolle and Larena Woodmore (E. synandra).

I felt very proud and thrilled to have participated in such a prestigious and time-honoured event. It is an experience which I shall treasure always.   

 

  • Eucalyptus recurva M.D. Crisp (FAMILY MYRTACEAE) Mongarlowe Mallee (Critically Endangered) with Longicorn Beetle sp. (Family CERAMBYCIDAE) The painting was undertaken with the assistance of Robert Gourlay, RFD, B.Appl.Sc., M.Appl.Sc., who very kindly guided me to one of the remaining existing plants; and Wayne West (a former co-worker) who tracked down the plant’s location and initiated contact with Robert Gourlay. Watercolour on Arches Hot Pressed 300gsm, 32cm H x 23cm W, © 2015 Halina Steele
  • Eucalyptus albopurpurea (Boomsma) Nicolle (Family MYRTACEAE) Coffin Bay Mallee with Pararguda rufescens (Family LASIOCAMPIDAE) Rufous Snout Moth This painting of E albopurpurea was executed using samples sent by Mr Neil Palframan, Griffith, New South Wales (Australia). The caterpillar was painted from photographs sent by Dr Richard Glatz (South Australian Research and Development Institute), Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Watercolour on Arches Hot Pressed 300gsm, 32cm H x 23cm W, © 2015 Halina Steele
  • Eucalyptus kruseana F.Muell. (Family MYRTACEAE) Bookleaf Mallee (Rare) with Delias argenthona (Family PIERIDAE) Scarlet or Northern Jezebel This illustration was painted from a plant growing in the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. The butterfly was painted from a photo taken by David A King at Myall Park Botanic Garden in Glenmorgan, Queensland, Australia. Watercolour on Arches Hot Pressed 300gsm, 32cm H x 23cm W, © 2015 Halina Steele
  • Eucalyptus pachyphylla F.Muell. (Family MYRTACEAE) Red Bud Mallee or Thick-leaved Mallee with Coreid Nymph (Family COREIDAE) This painting of E pachyphylla was executed using samples sent by Ian Coleman, Curator, Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia. Watercolour on Arches Hot Pressed 300gsm, 32cm H x 23cm W, © Halina Steele 2015
  • Eucalyptus suggrandis (L.A.S.Johnson & K.D.Hill) (Family MYRTACEAE) Kundip Mallee with Temognatha sp. (Family BUPRESTIDAE) This painting of E suggrandis was executed using samples sent by Neil Palframan, Nericon, New South Wales (Australia) and Dean Nicolle, Currency Creek Arboretum, South Australia. The beetle was painted from photographs sent by William Archer, Esperance, Western Australia. Watercolour on Arches Hot Pressed 300gsm, 32cm H x 23cm W, © Halina Steele 2015
  • Eucalyptus synandra Crisp (Family MYRTACEAE) Jingymia Mallee (Vulnerable) with Gum Leaf Katydid (Family TETTIGONIIDAE) This painting of E synandra was executed using samples from Dean Nicolle, Currency Creek Arboretum, South Australia. The Gum Leaf Katydid was painted by photographs courtesy of Larena Woodmore, Kelmscott, Western Australia. Watercolour on Arches Hot Pressed 300gsm, 32cm H x 23cm W, © Halina Steele 2015