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Botanical Art Courses

A unique opportunity to explore the wonderful mountain plants and to spend time observing and illustrating them.

Please see the activities calendar for dates

Enjoy the famous hospitality of The Cavern, a resort hotel set in a magnificent valley adjoining Royal Natal National Park in the northern Drakensberg. The beautiful thatched buildings are set in colourful gardens, close to wonderful walks in the mountain grassland and forests, along streams and rivers. This is a unique opportunity to explore the wonderful mountain plants and to spend time observing and illustrating them.

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Gillian Condy and Elsa Pooley combine their talents as botanical artists and author of wild flower and tree field guides to provide a memorable botanical art course in the mountains. With excellent meals and teas provided, the participants are free to concentrate on their work. You can enjoy guided walks with Elsa. Plant material is easily sourced from the Cavern gardens and surrounding mountains. The Cavern provides a wide variety of activities and you are encouraged to bring your partner, friends or family along!

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Whether you are a beginner or an established botanical artist, attending the course will inform and inspire you. You will have uninterrupted time to work on your paintings, leaving unfinished work in the studio overnight. Art materials need to be supplied by the artists (you will receive a list once you have booked). Additional supplies will be available at the course.

RESERVATIONS:

Numbers are limited. Advance booking essential.

PROGRAMME

DAY 1
12h00-12h30 Unpack art materials in studio
12h30-13h30 Lunch
13h30-14h00 Move into your rooms
14h30-16h30 Introduction to the course. Drawing
16h30-18h00 Walk with Elsa, source plant material

DAY 2
06h30-07h45 *Walk with Elsa
07h45-08h30 Breakfast
08h30-12h30 Drawing
12h30-13h30 Lunch
13h30-14h00 Free time
14h00-16h30 Drawing
16h30-17h45 *Walk with Elsa
18h30-19h15 Art video

DAY 3
06h30-07h45 *Walk with Elsa
07h45-08h30 Breakfast
08h30-12h30 Drawing
12h30-13h30 Lunch
13h30-16h30 Painting
16h30-17h45 *Walk with Elsa
18h30-19h15 Art video

DAY 4
06h30-07h45 *Walk with Elsa
07h45-08h30 Breakfast
08h30-12h30 Drawing
12h30-13h30 Lunch
13h30-16h30 Painting
16h30-17h30 *Walk with Elsa
18h30-19h15 Art Video

DAY 5
06h30-07h45 *Walk with Elsa
07h45-08h30 Breakfast
08h30-12h30 Painting
12h30-13h30 Lunch
13h30-16h30 Painting
16h30-17h30 *Walk with Elsa
18h30-19h15 Art Video

DAY 6
07h00-09h00 Walk & Al Fresco breakfast
09h30-12h30 Drawing
12h30-13h30 Lunch
13h30-16h30 Painting
18h30-19h30 Cheese & Wine with The Cavern

DAY 7
06h30-07h45 *Walk with Elsa
07h45-08h30 Breakfast
08h30-09h00 Pack clothes etc, ready to depart
09h00-12h00 Adding the ‘magic touch’ to paintings! Pack up art materials, departure

Tea, coffee and water is available in the studio at all times

*all walks are optional

NB Course will start at 14h00 on the first day. Please make every effort to arrive before lunch, in time to unpack your art materials & luggage. Rooms are available from 13h30, so plan to unpack art materials on arrival, have an early lunch and move into your rooms at 13h30, ready to start the course at 14h00.

COURSE LEADERS

Gillian Condy
Gillian Condy was born in Kenya. She trained in scientific illustration at Middlesex Polytechnic in London, obtaining a Masters from the Royal College of Art in 1976. She worked in Botswana from 1978-1982 before taking up the position of resident botanical artist at the South African National Botanical Institute (SANBI) in Pretoria in 1983 where she is still employed.

She is an active freelance artist, having participated in over 170 group exhibitions worldwide including those of 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. In 2000 she was awarded a Gold Medal at the inaugural Kirstenbosch Exhibition of Botanical Art, followed by Silver in 2002, 2006 and Gold in 2004, 2008 and 2010.

A painting of Gunnera manicata features in the prestigious Highgrove Florilegium vol. 1, commissioned by His Royal Highness, Prince Charles. She has designed 14 sets of stamps for Botswana Post Office and 4 sets for South Africa. Two of her artworks are found on the Blue Train, a project she helped co-ordinate. In 1996 she presented a painting of “Mandela’s Gold” to President Nelson Mandela.

She has illustrated over 320 plates for ‘Flowering Plant of Africa’, contributed to various other SANBI publications and 8 plates for Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. She illustrated two books by Charles Craib, ‘Geophytic Pelargoniums’ (2001) and ‘Grass Aloes in the South African Veld’ (2005), and was a major contributor to the biographic section in the book ’Peeling Back the Petals: SA Botanical Art’(2001).

Gillian is one of the founding members of the Botanical Artists Association of Southern Africa (BAASA) and current Gauteng committee member. She runs regular art courses for SANBI and BAASA.

Awards: The Jill Smythies Award by the Linnaean Society of London (1990); the Beeld Stamp Design of the Year award for ‘ Edible Wild Fruits of Bophuthatswana’ (1992); the Cythna Letty Medal from the Botanical Society of South Africa (2002). A new cliff-dwelling grass Aloe from the Barberton area in Mpumalanga, has just been named after her, Aloe condyae.

Elsa Pooley
Elsa Pooley, author of best-selling field guides to trees and wild flowers, is a self taught botanical artist and amateur botanist. She spent 20 years in the game reserves of Maputaland where she explored the flora of the region before moving to Clansthal on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast in 1984. She pursued her passion for indigenous plants through collecting herbarium specimens, researching, writing, painting and landscape gardening. She currently divides her time between indigenous landscaping, botanical painting and writing and conducting wild flowers tours of KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho.

Elsa has taken part in group exhibitions of botanical art in South Africa since 1969. She has had paintings commissioned for the SANBI series ‘Flowering Plants of Africa’ and her limited edition portfolio ‘Palms of Africa’ (photo litho 1988) has been sold worldwide. Her paintings were commissioned for the new Blue Train (1999).She was awarded a Bronze Medal at the Inaugural Kirstenbosch Exhibition of Botanical Art (2000). Elsa is a founding member of BAASA and former chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal branch. She has illustrated a number of books including trees, flowers, grasses, ferns and fungi for ‘The Wildlife of Southern Africa. A field guide to the animals and plants of the region‘ (1997).

Elsa is well known for the best selling, photographically illustrated books ‘The Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand & Transkei’ (1993), ‘A Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of KwaZulu-Natal & the Eastern Region’ (1998) and ‘Mountain Flowers, A Field Guide to the Flora of the Drakensberg and Lesotho’ (2003) and ‘Forest Plants, in the forest and in the garden’ (2006), published by the Flora Publications Trust.

Awards: Conservationist of the Year (1996) from the Wildlife & Environment Society (Natal Branch), Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Contribution to Botany (1999) from the South African Association of Botanists, the Marloth Medal (2004) from the Botanical Society of Southern Africa and honorary Doctor of Science awarded by the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2008.

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4 thoughts on “Botanical Art Courses

  1. could you kindly tell me if the botanical art course is fully subscribed. also can one pay a surcharge for a single room.

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