Deirdre Bean 2020 hero

Another Natural Perspective

Deirdre Bean
21 April - 31 May 2020
Opening Saturday 25 April, 3 - 5 pm

View exhibition | Exhibition catalogue

Internationally recognised for her intricate botanical illustrations, DEIRDRE BEAN takes her attention to detail to another level. DEIRDRE’s fine, scientifically accurate drawings taken from life have been painstakingly developed over extended periods of time. As she works, she develops an intimate relationship with her subjects over many hours of close inspection.

Although DEIRDRE BEAN draws directly on her experience as a natural history illustrator, she maintains a subtle, yet rich layering of meaning in the compositions or her watercolours. DEIRDRE carefully and thoughtfully pairs her botanicals with a series of companion pieces; objects imbued with personal, familial and sometimes broader cultural meanings and associations. The pairing of objects within these still life contexts, see family history and natural history combined. Here, the perspective shifts and away from a purely classical botanical and scientific one and evolves and merges into the realm of storytelling imbued with both personal and cultural significance.

The combination of natural world objects with human manufactured objects leads to what DEIRDRE BEAN refers to as uncommon portraits. At a glance they are peculiar combinations; antique spoons sit beside specimens of intricate flowers, a bright red-orange persimmon sits complementary to a fine blue china cup. On closer inspection these quizzical combinations reflect the artist’s nostalgia. The botanical specimens; where they were collected, personal daily associations and childhood memories all hold meaning beyond the purely scientific. Both the botanical specimen and companion still life object play off each other whether seemingly complimentary or contradictory.

The companion pieces in these still life compositions become small windows into the artist’s life and memories.

In one particular watercolour, the beautifully rendered persimmon was actually harvested by her partner from a tree on his property, as has been deftly illustrated on the blue and white porcelain cup within the composition.

In another work a small, fresh branch of eucalyptus leaves is placed beside an old, battered and rusting enamel cup in an iconic mint green with blue rim. A cultural staple and a durable and enduring icon of Australian life in the bush, and experiences of travel and camping with roughed up enamel cups of tea. In these ways DEIRDRE BEAN is able to bring her fine illustrative style, and skilled traditional botanical painting methods into a fresh contemporary practice inspired by the natural world.