Saturday, 18 July 2009


“Earth laughs in flowers.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

For Art Sunday today, a linocut print by a contemporary Australian artist, Vida Pearson. She was born in 1957, near Wonthaggi in Victoria, Australia.She spent 3 years at the North Adelaide School of Art between 1982 - 1984 majoring in printmaking and drawing. She has been a professional artist/printmaker since 1985. Vida has won over 100 prizes in art competitions. She exhibits regularly with several galleries and usually has a solo exhibition every couple of years.

The main thrust of her work is hand-coloured linocuts of birds and flora - particularly Australian banksias, grevilleas and eucalypts, which are particularly suited to this medium. She goes on field trips regularly within Australia and overseas to source new material and inspiration. A trip to Antarctica in 2004 was probably the most exceptional and inspirational of these trips for her. She also works in watercolour and pastel when the subject matter calls for it.

The linocut above is of a native Australian flower, perhaps the most magnificent one, the Waratah (Telopea speciosissima). Robert Brown (1773-1858) named the genus Telopea in 1810 from specimens collected in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. Sir James Smith (1759-1828), a noted botanist and founder of the Linnaean Society in England, wrote in 1793: 'The most magnificent plant which the prolific soil of New Holland affords is, by common consent, both of Europeans and Natives, the Waratah. It is moreover a favourite with the latter, upon account of a rich honeyed juice which they sip from its flowers'.

The generic name Telopea is derived from the Greek 'telopos', meaning 'seen from afar', and refers to the great distance from which the crimson flowers are discernible. The specific name speciosissima is the superlative of the Latin adjective 'speciosus', meaning 'beautiful' or 'handsome'. 'Waratah', the Aboriginal name for the species, was adopted by early settlers at Port Jackson.

Telopea is an eastern Australian genus of four species. Two are confined to New South Wales, one to Tasmania and one extends from eastern Victoria into New South Wales. Telopea belongs to the family, Proteaceae, which is predominantly Australian and southern African. The Waratah is a stout, erect shrub, which may grow to 4 metres. The dark green leathery leaves, 13-25 cm in length, are arranged alternately and tend to be coarsely toothed. The flowers are grouped in rounded heads 7 to 10 cm in diameter surrounded by crimson bracts, about 5 to 7 cm long. It flowers from September to November and nectar-seeking birds act as pollinators. Large winged seeds are released when the brown leathery pods split along one side.

The species is fairly widespread on the central coast and adjoining mountains of New South Wales, occurring from the Gibraltar Range, north of Sydney, to Conjola in the south. It grows mainly in the shrub understory in open forest developed on sandstone and adjoining volcanic formations, from sea level to above 1000 metres in the Blue Mountains. Soils within its range tend to be sandy and low in plant nutrients. Rainfall is moderately high. Waratah plants resist destruction by bushfires, a natural element of their habitat, by regenerating from the rootstock. Flowering recommences two years after a moderate fire.

The Waratah is a spectacular garden subject in suitable soil and climate; it flowers prolifically and tends to be long-lived. The Waratah occurs naturally in at least ten national parks in the geological formation, know as the Sydney Basin. Brisbane Water, Dharug and Macquarie Pass National Parks are among the areas where this species is conserved. Waratahs are cultivated north of Sydney and in the Dandenong Ranges, Victoria. They are grown in Israel, New Zealand and Hawaii for the cut flower trade. It was introduced to England in 1789 but cannot survive English winters out of doors except in the south-west coastal regions, and it rarely flowers in glasshouses. It is also cultivated in California.

Enjoy your week!


  1. This is beautiful! So bright and cheerful.

  2. Went to the Wiki link. Who would want a white one? Wonderful flower. And the linocut is a beautiful rendition of it.

    Happy you are here posting Art Sunday.

  3. I love this - I can only echo Julia and say - this is beautiful - thank you for sharing Vida Pearson's waratah too :)

  4. PS. I tried to grow waratahs here, several years ago now, but they wanted a drier climate and a sandier soil I think - never survived in Melbourne ;)