Great Garden Sketchabout #27: collaged aerial view of Royal Botanic Gardens

April 10, 2011

10×8″ double spread, Derwent graphite pencils and Staedtler watercolour pencils. Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Aerial view from the GPO tower in Martin Place, taken in 1892. At far left is the Lands Department Building (later the Education Department headquarters) with a tower which dominated the landscape till well after the 1930s, when it was joined by the Astor apartment building in Macquarie Street. Benelong Point was in time a tram depot, but beyond the three ship masts, I can’t work out much of the building on the Point and around to Government House. At far right, via Fort Denison and the peninsula of Lady Macquarie’s Chair, is Garden Island and several large pine trees. This photo was taken just a decade after fire consumed the Garden Palace. Few if any of most of the buildings in sight have survived to the present day; only such streets as O’Connell Street can be made out. An approximate view today might be possible from the rooms of the hotel now built behind the GPO at 1 Martin Place; otherwise one would need 19th-century version of Sands Directory to work out the principal landmarks of the period.  What I particularly like, at lower left, is the single-storey elegant house, with lady on the footpath next to a departing horse-drawn carriage, possibly in Castlereagh Street.

At least one example of collage was inevitable in my Gardens Sketchbook. Having found that I was concentrating on so many other pages on plants and trees, I felt the need for a landscape and a context for the gardens in its urban, harbourside setting. Colleagues have included maps; I baulked at that, but also wanted to introduce some colour, with all the ‘inauthenticity’ of colour used in period postcards. Fortuitously some subtle colour has crept in to the scan of the photo, imitating the sort of beige watercolour wash Sydney Ure Smith used in his Sydney central business district landscapes in pencil.

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One Response to “Great Garden Sketchabout #27: collaged aerial view of Royal Botanic Gardens”

  1. quirkyartist Says:

    This is wonderful. Glad to see you are putting collage in to effect. I wish my sketchbook was half as stylish as yours.Missed you yesterday afternoon.


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