State Library showcases exquisite wonders of the Wildflower State

Tuesday 08 August 2017
  • Botanical Wonderland explores Western Australia’s beautiful floral diversity
  • Exhibit features handmade seaweed hat, pressed wildflowers, watercolour paintings, hand coloured photographs, embroidery and porcelain
  • Free event, open from 10 August to 24 September, 2017

Botanical Wonderland opens Thursday August 10 at the State Library of Western Australia. The exhibit celebrates WA’s extraordinary floral diversity and explores the many ways in which Western Australians, past and present, have responded to the State’s rich plant life.

Reflecting the amazing botanic spectrum of the State, a collection of beautiful and unusual items will be featured in the exhibit. From the Rottnest Island seaweed hat crafted by Hallie Stow in the 1940s, watercolour artworks of school children in 1909, to albums of delicate wildflowers pressed and mounted over eighty-five years ago; Botanical Wonderland showcases both the intricate beauty and the tremendous diversity of Western Australian flora.

The exhibit is presented by the State Library of Western Australia in conjunction with the Western Australian Museum and the Royal Western Australian Historical Society.

CEO and State Librarian, Margaret Allen said that she was delighted the State Library could showcase such a unique and vital part of the State’s history and culture. “Wildflowers are so deeply entwined in both the landscape and identity of Western Australia.”

Robert Nicholson AO, President of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society Council commented that the exhibit captures the various practical and artistic responses Western Australians have had to the State’s botanic wonders. “Western Australians have always reacted to their surroundings. The display not only presents beautiful reflections of Western Australian floral history, but celebrates the practical uses of the native plant-life as well.”

Botanical Wonderland opens on Thursday 10 August and runs until Sunday 24 September 2017.

 Snapshot of exhibit items:

  • Rottnest Seaweed Hat – woven by Hallie Stow (1876-1972).  Hallie used the wider Rottnest seaweed to weave sunhats and one has been carefully preserved by the Shellam family (Hallie was Fiona Stanley’s mother in law).
  • Artworks of wildflowers by 8 year olds gifted to Governor Sir Frederick and Lady Ethel Bedford in 1909.
  • Hand coloured photographs if wildflowers by Hilda Wright (1903-1990)
  • Beautifully preserved ‘pressed’ flowers by Lillian Wooser Greaves – a self-described ‘wildflower worker’ (1969-1956)
  • Seaweed Albums – collected from Rottnest beaches in the 1890’s Mrs Mary Angelo, wife of the superintendent, pressed dried and mounted seaweed in albums.The West Australian, 20 July 1896 – reported both Mary’s handwork as well as the artwork added to her albums by her husband.
  • Hand painted china from the 1800’s and  as recent as items prepared for the sesquicentenary in 1979
  • The story of the Posy of Pink everlastings – reported in The West Australian 16 September 1950
  • Matchbox tops featuring Western Australian wildflowers, C1960
  • Embroidery, tapestry and crotched items depicting wildflowers – C1930
  • China Painting from May and Helen Creath (1926) and the aptly named Flora Landells.
  • Flower Day images (1950’s) – celebrating National Flower Day for the Bush Nursing association.
  • Western Mail Christmas Magazines – 1930’s
  • Wildflower artistry – recreations of wildflowers using wire and fabric (Thelma Knox, 1829-2009)
Last updated on: 5 September 2017