Ambling through the Australian flowers of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha I suddenly see the native flora through someone elses’ eyes – artist, illustrator and author May Gibbs. It’s been many years since I followed Gibbs’ Aussie-bush inspired characters Snugglepot & Cuddlepie on an adventure, or looked into the wide eyes of a button-cute Gumnut Baby – but there they all were lying dormant within me, awakened by a walk in the park.
May Gibbs was born in England in 1877 and relocated with her family to Australia when she was just four years old. She grew up across South Australia and Western Australia, showing talent for botanical illustrations as a teen. She studied art back in the UK, before returning Downunder where the creative found her ultimate muse in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. From the bushland blossomed the first of many long treasured characters, the Gumnut Brownies (later “Gumnut Babies”) and she worked until her ninetieth year, creating a legacy of children’s tales and artwork that lingers in libraries and homes across the country. Not to mention where I found it – the Australian bush.
If I hadn’t lived overseas for the last five years, I may not have stopped to reconnect with the intimate details of the native forests – the scent of eucalypt, laugh of kookaburras and vibrant Australian flowers. But there I discovered childhood memories and new inspiration, as I took in the artwork of nature and saw the bush through May Gibbs’ creative lens. Take a walk with me!
If you’ve never experienced the delight of May Gibb’s work, hop on over to her website and meet her tiny creations. Also, if you want to experience some of Australia’s native flora, I highly recommend the Australian Plant Communities section of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens – pack a picnic and enjoy this gorgeous green space (it’s free).
Peace, love & inspiring travel,