Beverly Allen

B e v e r l y   A l l e n

Collection with Gloriosa Fruit

Since 1997, my painting practice has been watercolour, both on paper and on vellum, focused on the natural world of plants, which I paint from life. The play between aesthetic intuition and critical description is the dialogue that stimulates my practice. It is important when the plant as subject has been decontextualized and is to be realistically rendered that the composition conveys the grace and lyricism inherent in the plant’s natural habitat. My wish is to engage the viewer and share my explorations into the intricacies of design and structure in plants. The smallest details finely painted are further impetus for this engagement, indulging my curiosity and pleasure and, hopefully, furthering an involvement with the plant and respect for its value in the natural world.

The works on vellum primarily take the form of ‘collections’ — a stimulation of curiosity through pieces of plant material as still life ‘objects’. The arrangement of their shapes, textures and colours in composition are intended to raise awareness of the diversity in plants.

Beverly Allen was awarded a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney in 1995. Having forged a career as a graphic designer and illustrator from 1965 to 2012, she has specialised in botanical painting since 1998 and, since 2004, has tutored in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, the UK and the Netherlands.

In 2006, Allen co-founded the Florilegium Society at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, facilitating a collection of contemporary botanical art for the Botanic Gardens of Sydney. She produced two publications and five exhibitions at the Museum of Sydney in 2016 and the Shirley Sherwood Gallery at Kew in 2018.

She has participated in over 65 group exhibitions in Australia and internationally, including New York, Washington, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Tokyo, London (the Masterpiece Fair) and the Shirley Sherwood Gallery in Kew Gardens, as well as Capetown, Florence and the Netherlands.

Allen has received the Shirley Sherwood Award for Botanical Art (2023); the American Society of Botanic Artists Dianne Bouchier Award for Excellence in Botanic Art (2016); Silver and Gold Medals from the New York Botanic Garden (2013, 2011) and a Gold Medal, Royal Horticultural Society London Botanical Art Show (2007). In 2023, she was an artist-in-residence at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation, Virginia, USA.

Her work is held in private and public collections internationally, including the Florilegium, Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney; the Peter Crossing Collection, London; the Shirley Sherwood Collection; the Highgrove Florilegium and A Transylvanian Florilegium for the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Trust; the Lindley Library, Royal Horticultural Society; Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Library and the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, USA.

Allen’s work appears in over 15 publications, among which are The Shirley Sherwood Collection: Modern Masterpieces of Botanical Art; The Florilegium: Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney: Celebrating 200 Years; Botanic Endeavour: The Florilegium Society Celebrates the Banks & Solander Collection; The Peter Crossing Collection; Botanical Art in the Third Millenium and The Transylvanian Florilegium and The Highgrove Florilegium.

Beverly Allen was elected a member of the Australian Watercolour Institute in 2023.

Copyright © Australian Watercolour Institute