The largest collection of any single artist held
by one institution in the world is who and where??
I'm off this morning to stand in the modern temple which
houses this incredible collection.
The National Library, Canberra which is home to this amazing collection
of the works of Australian Artist
Inspiration for my work with Flowers comes from connections made many years ago
in my youth that where confirmed on my trip to the UK earlier this year.
The Lady of Flowers has always been there guiding me and as many of you
know the strangest set of very fast and perfect coincidences lead me on that Journey.
My mentor is The Flower Hunter Ellis Rowan......
I make it to Canberra often to research, to explore and to connect because
just being there with her energetically powerful art fills me
with so much love and inspiration.
I almost hid my love of flowers as a young girl as they
seemed too frivolous and I was the gothic/punk try hard. :)
Then one day I saw an old book about Ellis Rowan, then explored and then fell in
love with this brave, strong and amazing woman.
The fact that her name is practically unknown is a terrible travesty.
She was an incredibly gifted artist,
a wonderful, though I admit colourful writer,
an inspirational woman of her time. I just adore her!
Ellis Rowan 1848 - 1922
otherwise known as "The Flower Hunter"
She is such a inspirational kin-spirit to me and if you
love stories about art, women pushing boundaries,
Australian stories, well you have to explore this amazing
and inspirational woman's life and works.
Fast Fact... the largest single collection of ANY artist
in the WORLD is the one held by the National Library in Canberra, Australia
of Ellis Rowan's work! 970 pieces.
She adored flowers and would travel to the most remote
locations imaginable, all over Australia and then overseas
to find her beloved subjects.
But wait!... Ellis did all this mostly alone in her corsets,
flowing dresses and parasol.
To boot her most famous adventure was during the First World War
when she set out to paint all 72 know Bird of Paradise flowers
in New Guinea... amazing?
Well yes... but astounding as she was 70 at the time.
She as described by writer Winifred Scott:
"....the painter was more wonderful than her work
and that is saying a great deal.
The first impression was of fiery, intense vitality
in a seemingly most fragile personality....
She had a power of endurance which strong men might envy....
and worked as if upheld by some power greater than any inherent
in human flesh and blood"
Loving her yet? Well not everyone shared that at the time...
Ellis Rowan wrote newspaper articles entitled "The Flower Hunter"
about her adventures. It was wildly exciting and popular,
something that would bring her under scrutiny.
Her writings where embellished, as she would later admit,
to maintain interest in what can at times be a monotonous process.
She used the media of her time, understood its power and
keen sense of what the public wanted to hear.
You have to remember at the time being an artist was not
something encouraged in women.
In fact Flower Painting WAS, but it was the pursuit of ladies
in parlours with cut specimens from tended gardens.
Ellis not only took to adventuring to seek out her subjects,
she wrote newspaper articles, a book, won many Art Prizes
and was a household name and so was bound to upset not only
society but especially the male art establishment.
Although she was her times 'Blogger', using the media
of the time to promote her work and herself it was in
fact a projection of herself, as she was a very private person
and did not at all like people getting too close.
It can be hard to unrave lthe real Ellis, but her work and what
we do know of her life stand as that of great artistic accomplishment,
a life lived with passion and adventure.
I adore her paintings, although her work was mainly Botanical Art,
she infused such passion and drama into her paintings that the line
between Scientific art and Fine art overlapped divinely.
Her connection with flowers is very much something I relate to.
She also painted animals, birds!, insects and landscapes.
I began my own art journey as a fine art 'Flower' painter when
I lived in Avalon in Sydney many moons ago.
Flowers have never left me... I wear them in my hair because
I love them and because I strongly believe in the benefits of colour therapy.
Can't resist a floral dress or in fact anything covered with Gaia's gift of love.
Few more Ellis snippets....
*Her portrait (1929) by Longstaff was the first National Portrait of a Woman!
(paid for by the people)
*She held the largest solo exhibition ever seen at the time in Sydney
in 1920 featuring 1000 works!
*Ellis spent 10 years in the UK, held successful exhibitions,
and attracted many admirers including royality, even Queen Victoria herself
acquired three paintings.
*She travelled the USA painting wildflowers for seven years on her quest.
Ellis wrote three books on the subject in collaboration with Alice Lounsberry.
Time for you to go exploring.....
excellent website created for the 2003 exhibition held by the National Library
and I adore this book "The Flower Hunter" by Christine and Michael Morton-Evans
bunches of love, Cheralyn 🌻