Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Tropical botany travels nationally

Offshoots: A Florilegium from Cairns Botanical Gardens is a vibrant exhibition of contemporary botanical illustration by Cairns artist Julie McEnerny, on display at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden from Saturday 28 June to Sunday 31 August, which documents the extraordinary plant collection of the Cairns Botanic Gardens. In an exciting first for Tropical North Queensland’s contemporary arts venue, Tanks Arts Centre, this touring exhibition has been selected from works created during a series of five consecutive residencies at Tanks, commencing in 2009.

Tanks Arts Centre’s residency program is a development initiative to build the capacity of artists in the region, and in this specific case, it gave Julie access to horticultural and traditional Indigenous knowledge of the native plants, and consolidated a lasting relationship with both Tanks and Botanic Gardens curators, and an army of gardeners who collected specimens for her to illustrate.

'I could not have achieved either the Offshoots residencies or the exhibitions, without the support of Cairns Regional Council with in-kind assistance & grants, including the Regional Arts Development Fund in partnership with Arts Queensland,' said Julie McEnerny.

'I hope this tour will raise my profile nationally as an artist, as well as the national profile of the Tanks and Cairns Botanic Gardens, and I must thank them for providing generous access to the plant collections and their expert knowledge, and for consistently programming career development opportunities for local artists,' she said.

Cairns Botanic Gardens are renowned for having one of the best exhibitions of tropical plants in Australia, with approximately 4000 species, including specimens from Northern Australian rainforests as well as notable species from South East Asia. The Gardens date back to 1876 and have grown to become one of the most visited attractions in Far North Queensland.

The aim of Julie McEnerny’s residencies was to produce a florilegium of the Gardens' collection, with a special focus on those plants of significant ecological or cultural significance. She began with Offshoots: Aboriginal Plant Use Garden - the first chapter of the Offshoots residency at Tanks Arts Centre and Cairns Botanic Gardens in 2009. Each subsequent year Julie has produced a fresh chapter of the florilegium, focusing on a feature of the Garden’s collection.

Offshoots: A Florilegium from Cairns Botanical Gardens, comprises a selection of works from five consecutive years of exhibitions that will travel to galleries and botanic gardens around Australia over the next two years.

Offshoots: A Florilegium from Cairns Botanical Gardens is a collaborative partnership between Julie McEnerny, Tanks Arts Centre and Cairns Botanic Gardens, with the tour being managed by Museum and Gallery Services Queensland.

The project has also been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, and thanks must also go to local Yirrganydji elder, George Skeene and Seith Fourmile of the Gimuy Wallaburra Yidinji people, for the sharing of knowledge of traditional uses for the plants of the region.

This is a vibrant exhibition of contemporary botanical illustrations by Cairns artist Julie McEnerny, who uses a variety of techniques to document the extraordinary plant collection of the Cairns Botanic Gardens. Julie McEnerny's technical skills as a botanical illustrator are matched only by her insight into the cultural and ecological significance of her subject matter and by her sheer dedication to her role as the Cairns Botanic Gardens illustrator in residence. After five years on the Offshoots project, the body of work is substantial, fascinating and worthy of representing the diverse collection of plants at the Cairns Botanic Gardens.

Offshoots: A Florilegium from Cairns Botanical Gardens

When: Saturday 28 June - Sunday 31 August, 9.30 am to 5.00 pm daily
Where: Visitor Centre, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah
Cost: Free entry
Enquiries: Phone 4567 3000

Offshoots Mixed Media Workshop with Julie McEnerny

Join our exhibition artist Julie McEnerny for an introduction to a range of media and materials. Produce a medium sized work on paper using collage and stencilling techniques together with pens, acrylic paint and water soluble mediums. Suitable for all levels of ability, beginners welcome.

When: Saturday 30 August, 10 am - 4 pm.
Where: Waratah Education Centre, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah
Cost: $95 per person ($85.50 for Foundation & Friends Members). Includes morning/afternoon tea. Participants to bring their own lunch. Participants will have access to a fridge and microwave oven.
Bookings: Book online or phone 9231 8182