Artists in residence | State Library of New South Wales

Artists in residence

Lewin: Wild Art features contemporary artists working in a studio space. Gain an insight into the art-making process by observing and engaging with six different artists over the course of the exhibition. Artists will be ‘at work’ on weekdays between 10 am and 2 pm (excluding public holidays).

  • Paula Church 5–16 March
  • Sally Gibbs 19–30 March
  • Beverly Allen 2–5 April, 10–13 April
  • Deirdre Bean 16–27 April
  • Rebecca Holmes 30 April–11 May
  • Susannah Blaxill 14–25 May


Paula Church
Paula Church

Paula Church was born in Athlone country in Westmeath, Ireland. She moved to England in 1970 at the age of eight. Paula gained a Bachelor of Fine Art at Brighton Polytechnic, East Sussex. She entered works in various exhibitions in England before emigrating to Australia in 1996.

Paula has exhibited at exhibitions around Sydney, most notably Botanica at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Paula began to paint birds in 2007 with a view to representing Australia’s most iconic birds.

Paula is also a heraldic artist, painting coats of arms and other insignia. Her recent commissions include two 1910 Rolls Royce cars and a yacht. Her most notable commission was to paint eight coats of arms and five insignia onto the State Coach Britannia, which will be presented to Her Majesty the Queen.

Paula incorporates three bees into her paintings, an old heraldic symbol representing industriousness. She also hides a small map of Australia in her paintings.

Sally Gibbs 
Sally Gibbs

Sally Gibbs’ practice explores the visual and physical effects of time, climate, seasons and light on the landscape.

Sally’s childhood in rural Victoria gave her a lifelong passion for nature. She has built on this with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) — with works that refer to the fragility of our environment — and a career as Head of the renowned Fashion Design Studio at East Sydney College.

Sally draws on deep memory to create finely drawn fragments of fossils, bones, plants and animals on supports as diverse as wood, copper and aluminium. Her use of erasure and alchemic pouring of pigments and patinas evokes images of time and beauty in our surroundings.

Beverly Allen 
Beverly Allen

Beverly Allen took up botanical art in 1997 and has exhibited annually since 1999 at the Botanica exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, as well as in Melbourne, New York, Washington, Chicago, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Kyoto and London.

After being awarded a Gold Medal at the Royal Horticultural Society Show in 2007 her work was selected for the RHS Lindley Library and the Royal Botanic Gardens Library at Kew Gardens. She has recently been awarded the Gold Medal for botanical art by the New York Botanic Garden.

Her paintings are held in the collections of the Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, the Shirley Sherwood Collection, the Highgrove Florilegium for the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Trust, the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation and the Isaac and Alisa Sutton Collection.

Her paintings are usually life-sized and she closely observes all parts of the plant, and often dissects them to reveal every detail. Then, working in watercolour on Arches paper, she layers and blends colours to capture the play of light and shade that gives form.

Deirdre Bean 
Deirdre Bean

Deirdre Bean is a botanical artist who lives and works in Sydney and Port Douglas. She paints in watercolour to the exacting standards required of a botanical artist, ensuring all subjects are botanically correct in size and colour.

Deidre has exhibited in London, New York and Sydney. Her work is held in public collections in Sydney, London and Pittsburgh. She is currently painting the mangroves of Australia.

Rebecca Holmes
Rebecca Holmes

Rebecca Noel Holmes is a Sydney-based artist who works primarily with representational painting and drawing. Graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Newcastle in 2010, Rebecca had her third and largest solo exhibition at Watt Space gallery in Newcastle in March 2011 and was a finalist in the 2011 Manning Art Prize.

Her practice focuses on concepts relating to the ephemeral — such as life and death — using media and techniques historically and artistically associated with permanence.

In the State Library Galleries, Rebecca will be working on a series of ink paintings from study skins of native birds from the area she grew up in. The vibrant colour and beauty of these skins is a reminder of the life that once existed within them.

Susannah Blaxill 
Susannah Blaxill

Susannah Blaxill is an artist working in pencil, ink, charcoal, watercolour and gouache. She lives and works in the Southern Highlands of NSW. She has held a solo exhibition at the New England Regional Gallery, Armidale, and two sell-out solo shows in London at the David Ker Gallery and Spinks Gallery. Susannah’s group exhibitions include the Linnean Society in London, Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University, National Galleries of Scotland, Museum of Modem Art in Edinburgh, Marciana Library in Venice, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, National Arts Club in New York, New Orleans Museum of Art, Seijo Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Museum of Art in Toyko, and Sydney and Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens.

Her work has appeared on the front page of the New York Times art pages. In reviewing Susannah’s work Michael Reid of The Australian, wrote

What makes Blaxill an outstanding artist … is that she compels the viewer to see the everyday in a new way … The good and the great have always had this capacity to take the obvious and infuse it with all the wonder of creative discovery.