Wakefield Press, April 2019. 216 pages, hardcover, colour photographs throughout
Blooms and Brushstrokes takes you on a unique journey through the history of Australian art, one flower at a time, examining the blooms depicted in still lifes, floral portraits, decorative interiors and botanical illustrations by a long line of Australian artists. Mother-and-daughter team Penelope and Tansy Curtin start this fascinating journey in the late eighteenth century, when the traditions adhering to the Western art canon were transplanted into the newly colonised Australia. They follow it through the rapidly developing artistic styles of the early twentieth century, to the new media of the contemporary period.
These works of art also shine a light on the role and importance of plants and flowers in everyday life. They illustrate changing floral fashions, as well as highlighting flowers in their various forms – cut flowers, pot plants and gardens. And along the way you’ll encounter many of Australia’s most significant artists, including John Glover, Arthur Streeton, Margaret Preston, Grace Cossington Smith, John Brack and Margaret Olley, as well as some of Australia’s most beautiful, and sometimes intriguing, native flora, such as the waratah and Sturt’s desert pea, not to mention perennial garden favourites like roses, sweet peas and daisies.
Spectacular, intimate, engaging and meticulously researched – and full of interesting and quirky facts about the flowers and the artists themselves, Blooms and Brushstrokes is a book for art, flower and history lovers alike.