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Louise Saunders

Dendrobium discolor
golden orchid

2019, watercolour on watercolour canvas
38.5 x 51 cm

Collected 1770: Bay of Inlets, Bustard Bay, Cape Grafton, Endeavour River

Observed 2016: Tully Gorge National Park, Stanage Bay

Capturing this orchid in all its extravagance, the artist has depicted ornately twisting flower sprays, lush leathery leaves, and gnarled withered bulbs. The fern, Drynaria rigidula, is also epiphytic and has been incorporated as a companion within the composition, intensifying the naturalism.

In North Queensland, Indigenous painters extract the viscous green juice from the fleshy stems and pseudobulbs of Dendrobium and other tree orchids to make a fixative for binding ground ochres to bark slabs, rock walls and human torsos. The plant is chewed to produce a useable sap that not only helps to attach pigments to a surface but also acts as a mordant to keep the colours strong and vibrant.

Melaleuca viminalis 
weeping bottlebrush

2002, watercolour on paper
66 x 45 cm

Collected 1770: Endeavour River

Collected 2002: Cleveland

This lyrical watercolour depicts the characteristically pendulous branches of Melaleuca viminalis with a glorious show of bright red, nectar rich bottlebrush flowers. The alternate leaves, notched bark and woody seed capsules are also rendered in glowing detail.

The shadowed ‘echo’ of other branches further evokes the weeping habit of the tree and the dimensional illusion of the composition.

The tree’s adaptations to survive strong currents during flood events, allow it to slow the flow of floodwater and reduce erosion, thereby improving the water quality in streams and rivers. The artist has added a dragonfly to indicate the tree’s preference for a watery habitat.

Pterostylis revoluta
autumn greenhood

2019, watercolour on paper
35 x 24 cm

Collected 1770: Botany Bay

Collected 1991: Warby Ranges

This species, like other greenhoods, is unusual as there are two forms: the non-flowering plants have a rosette of leaves flat on the ground, while the flowering plants have a single large distinctive flower with leaves on the flowering spike.

The artist has depicted both forms emerging from the forest floor at true scale, and evocatively shadowed the forest habitat. This intimate and warm composition reveals a precious find.

© 2020 Botanical Artists’ Society Queensland