Helen Fitzgerald

Helen has been an artist all her life and grew up amongst the Sydney Northwood Group who included Lloyd Rees, Marie & John Santry and Rowland Wakelin. She has been painting, exhibiting and teaching for almost sixty years.

Australia​n Botanical illustration & Wildlife artist

Hele​n is an experienced artist and teacher. She holds degrees in Applied Science and Art Education and has studied overseas at the University of Vienna and the University of Perugia (Italy). Born (1945) into an artistic family in Sydney, Australia, her artistic career started quite early. She was nineteen when her first painting was accepted for the Wynne art exhibition in Sydney. Helen taught senior art at Kambala School in Sydney in 1966-67 before going overseas to work and study for three years.

In 1972 Helen moved to Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia and took a part time teaching position at Canberra School of Arts. In the years since moving to the area she has taught tertiary students in various Canberra tertiary institutions, including nine years with the Faculty of Applied Science at Canberra University and over a decade at the Centre for Continuing Education at the Australian National University.

The years 2000 & 2001 were very busy years for Helen. She sold everything she exhibited at the Botanica 2000 & 2001 shows at the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens, and the Art of Botanical Illustration at the National Herbarium of Victoria. Helen then spent five weeks in Europe on a study tour which included a two week painting workshop with Robert Wade and a week at West Dean College, Chichester England. In Oct 2001 she was accepted into the prestigious Society of Floral Painters of the UK. She was a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists for many years. November 2002 saw Helen awarded a GOLD medal from the Royal Horticultural Society, London. Helen was a member of the Florilegium Society at the Sheffield Botanical Gardens UK.

Helen has had numerous solo shows and her commissioned works hang in France, Canada, U.K., Germany, USA, Finland, Japan and Italy, as well as Australia. She has illustrated six books on flora and fauna of the Australian Capital Territory and Alpine flora. She has published eight instructional DVDs. Her work can be viewed at Bungendore Wood Works, Bungendore NSW.

One of Helen’s students (Christine Cansfield-Smith) suggested the idea of having a Canberra Botanical (Canbot) exhibition to encourage local botanical artists.  Canbot followed the success of the first Gibb St. Cafe exhibition (2001) created by Helen to teach her students about mounting an exhibition. In late 2002 Helen & Christine formed the first Canberra Botanical organising committee with four other students of Helens. The first Canberra Botanical exhibition was opened in September 2003. This annual exhibition ran for a decade and has spawned other Botanical exhibitions.

In 2004, Helen hung two solo Botanical & wildlife exhibitions (one at the Bungendore Wood Works gallery in August and a second at the Bega Regional Art gallery in December) and also exhibited at Canberra Botanical 2004 and Botanica 2004 (Botanical Illustration) at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens.

The years 2005 through 2007 included the inauguration of the Canberra Institute of Botanical Art (CIBA), more solo exhibitions at Bungendore Wood Works, exhibiting in Sydney Botanica and helping to run the annual Canberra Botanical. These years also include a painting field trip to SW Western Australia. Helen continues to travel extensively in Australia gathering sketches and inspiration for her paintings. Trips to Birdsville Qld and Albany WA in 2012 provided loads of material for her 7th solo exhibition at the Bungendore Woodworks Gallery in May 2013. Helen estimates she has had 30 plus solo exhibitions.

At the end of 2017 Helen decided to retire from her regular monthly classes in Botanical Illustration and Watercolour techniques at the Bungendore School of Arts. These monthly classes had been running uninterrupted for 21 years.