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BOTANICAL ART COURSES (article first published : 2004-03-7)

Well-known botanical artist Elsa Pooley has completed her latest field guide Mountain Flowers and is setting up a wild flower tour company as well as getting back to botanical painting.

She joins forces with fellow botanical artist Gill Condy to provide a series of memorable botanical art courses at The Cavern, a family hotel set in a magnificent valley adjoining Royal Natal National Park in the northern Drakensberg. The beautifully thatched buildings are set in colourful gardens and close to wonderful walks in the mountains.

Gillian Condy trained in scientific illustration and obtained a Masters from the Royal College of Art in 1976. She took up the position of resident botanical artist at the National Botanical Institute in Pretoria in 1983. She has participated in over 70 group exhibitions worldwide including those of the Royal Horticultural Society in London (7 gold, 3 silver-gilt) and the 7th International Exhibit of Botanical Art and Illustration, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation in Pittsburgh, USA.

Gill was awarded a gold medal at the inaugural Kirstenbosch Exhibition of Botanical Art (2000): the Jill Smythies Award by the Linnean Society of London (1990), and the Cythna Letty Medal by the Botanical Society of South Africa (2001). She has illustrated over 200 plates for Flowering Plants of Africa and has five plates in Curtisís Botanical Magazine. Her artwork is found in collections all over the world. She has run a number of major workshops for botanical artists and attended botanical art courses by international teachers Katie Lee, Jenny Phillips and Siriol Sherlock. She has organised three conferences for botanical artists in 1989, 1998 and 2002 and is one of the founding members of the Botanical Artists Association of Southern Africa (BAASA) and chairperson of the Gauteng Branch.

Elsa Pooley is a self taught botanical artist who spent 20 years in the game reserves of Maputaland where she explored the flora of the region. She pursued her passion for plants through collecting, researching, writing, painting and landscape gardening. She now lives near Clansthal on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast and currently divides her time between painting and conducting wild flower tours of the region. She has exhibited extensively in South Africa and her paintings have been published in the NBI series Flowering Plants of Africa and her limited edition portfolio Palms of Africa (photo litho 1988) has been sold worldwide. She was awarded a Kirstenbosch Bronze Medal at the Inaugural Kirstenbosch Exhibition of Botanical Art (2000). She is a founder member of BAASA and chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal branch.

Elsa has illustrated a number of books including the plants in The Wildlife of Southern Africa. A field guide to the animals and plants of the region (Southern books, 1997), also available in the Green Guides. She has written the best selling, photographically illustrated books The Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand & Transkei (1993), A Field Guide to Wild Flowers of KwaZulu-Natal & the Eastern Region (1998) and Mountain Flowers, A Field Guide to the Flora of the Drakensberg and Lesotho (2003) published by the Flora Publications Trust.

Whether beginner or established botanical artist, the course will inform and inspire. There will be uninterrupted time to work on paintings and unfinished work can be left in the conference room/studio overnight. Art materials need to be supplied by the artists (a recommended list will be available on booking). Limited additional supplies will be available at the course.

The courses take place from April 13 to 18 and from October 31 to November 5. Limited to 15 people, the cost of R2,600 includes the course, accommodation and all meals for five nights.

With three meals a day and lavish teas, the artists are free to concentrate on their work in the large, well-lit, thatched conference room. Plants are easily sourced from the Cavern gardens and surrounding mountains and participants can enjoy walks with Elsa at the end of the day. The Cavern provides a wide variety of activities and family members or partners are encouraged to come along.

Reservations through The Cavern on 036 438 6270 or email: cavern@iafrica.com or visit www.cavernberg.co.za




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