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Artist transformed by an immersion in Ash

ARTIST Becc Spiteri calls her experience an “immersion” in the landscape of Ash Island.
Nanjing Night Net

The hours of meditation and research she has devoted to the island has produced a new body of work that will be launched in Newcastle this week, as well as the discovery of the remarkable lives of two sisters, Helena and Harriet Scott.

The sisters were the daughters of Alexander Walker Scott and his wife, Harriet, who moved to the Hunter River estuary in 1846.

Over the years, the sisters illustrated the island’s flora and fauna, mainly moths and butterflies, and the works form a spectacular collection that is in the care of the Australian Museum.

The works are touring NSW but are not scheduled in the Hunter until the end of 2013, at Maitland Regional Art Gallery.

Ms Spiteri’s exhibition, Transformations: Reflections of Ash Island, opens officially on Thursday, but it can be seen from tomorrow.

“I was drawn to the place – sketching, meditating, journalling to see what would emerge,” Ms Spiteri said.

“Through my research I found the two Scott sisters.

“And my time was rewarded,” she said.

Ms Spiteri said she did not want to mimic the sisters’ work.

“Mine [works] are more about the form. My aim has been to pay homage to these extraordinary women, while remaining faithful to my own vision in interpreting this sublime landscape,” she said.

Australian Museum archivist Rose Docker describes the sisters as two of Australia’s most talented natural history artists.

One of the Scott family’s famous visitors was the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt.

This year the University of Newcastle’s Professor John Rostas, whose late wife Sue was a leading member of the Kooragang Wetland Rehabilitation Project, donated a book of the selected drawings of the sisters to a school named after Leichhardt in Germany.

The wetland group relied on the Scott family’s illustrations and diaries.

The Newcastle Herald has been told Newcastle Region Library could not host the travelling show because it did not have conservation measures, such as high-standard air-conditioning, available.

BECC SPITERI – Picture: Anita Jones

HELENA FORDE (nee Scott)

Artwork by Helena Scott. Image courtesy of the Australian Museum.