All things bright and beautiful – birds, botanica and blue glass - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

By Jen Henzell. Photos: Supplied.

The art exhibition BIRDS, BOTANICA and BLUE GLASS features the work of three women artists, drawn into this collaboration at Redland Museum by a shared love of art, the natural environment and native flora and fauna.

This is not the first time they have thrown their combined weight into an environmental issue. Their work was part of the 2022 Safe Harbour Exhibition, featuring artists’ visual responses to the plight of migratory birds, shore and wader birds around Australia, and the future of our coastal resting and feeding grounds on the Redlands Coast. Held in St John’s Cathedral, the exhibition drew a strong and supportive public response, and Redland Museum is confident that their newest collaboration will trigger similar reactions.

While their art contributions have a common focus – the pressing need to preserve nature for now and the future – their artistic interpretations are fascinatingly different.

Rhyll Henzell (who initiated the Safe Harbour exhibition) applies her talent to a variety of media: eco-printing (creating an image of a plant part by pressing it against fabric or paper and extracting the tannins with heat), watercolour, pens, wax colour, acrylics, gold leaf and long-lasting archival ink. The “blue glass” element is a Rhyll inspiration.

“I have always been in love with the colour ultramarine blue. It shows up somewhere in most of my paintings, and I guess the blue glass collection evolved out of that… I had never thought of it as a passion, as I don’t go seeking blue glass, but it often finds its way to me!”

Working in multi-media gives Rhyll the opportunity to push artistic boundaries in all directions in what she calls her “visual voice”; she says that the excitement of experimenting with new ideas and combinations gives her a reason to bounce out of bed in the mornings.

The Eastern Curlew, a critically endangered visitor to Redland’s foreshores, is Rhyll’s favourite bird – along with (not surprisingly) the tiny, brilliant blue Splendid Fairy Wren.

Bush Stone Curlews and Sparrows are Julie Barker’s favourite birds and acrylics are her choice of artistic medium. Enhanced with extension mediums, the colours flow onto the canvas, creating the overlaps, blurred lines and sense of movement that is Julie’s special delight. Her foliage, drawn in lively circles and spirals, reflects the same sense of unbroken continuation and connection.

“I like to have fun with my art, and if other people can enjoy the playfulness and get joy from it – well, that’s great,” Julie says. “I’m very conscious of us, animals, plants – the whole of nature – being integral parts of a whole. It sounds a bit weird but I develop a real fondness for some of my art subjects, particularly the birds. I sense them as being little entities of their own, give them names and fold them into my family.”

Jen Henzell gives a new life to fabric pieces, paper cut-out illustrations and found objects, re-creating the patterns, shapes and colours that she finds in the natural environment of her much-loved local landscapes.

“I find texture adds as much excitement as colour; once I include elements of texture and pattern, they bring depth to a piece that may have a tendency to look static. I want to keep experimenting with ways to achieve a sense of life or movement I admire in other artists’ work.”

Jen says that the largest single element she’s incorporated into her work is a paper lantern. The quaintest was a defunct silicone rubber stress ball.

“My nephew really wanted a blobfish stuffed toy, so I made one out of old fabrics and used the stress ball case to fill the nose – I made several versions until he was happy with the level of ugliness!”

Jen’s work features her favourite bird, the Magpie. “They’re so handsome in their black and white suits. I feel happy every time I hear a magpie call.”

Rhyll hopes that the exhibition will raise community consciousness and satisfy our love of beautiful artefacts.

“Collectively we hope that our individual pieces will touch the hearts of all who view them and that our viewers will leave our exhibition more curious about their natural surroundings and with a renewed awareness of the fragile beauty to be found out there.”

For art lovers keen for initiation into the mysteries, the exhibition will include a morning tea floor talk where the three artists will explain their individual techniques and materials – and allow participants a glimpse of the Muse that inspires them.

Birds, Botanica and Blue Glass exhibition is on display at Redland Museum during April. The morning tea floor talk and technique demonstrations will be held on Wednesday, 10 April 2024, at 10:00am.

For more information, call 3286 3494 or go to

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