Sceitse and Covid-19

Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold our AGM in March and so, as we hope all members know, hand-in arrangements have been revised.

We’re now accepting all submissions for our sketchbook project, please see the recent email from Elaine about how to send your sketchbook pages. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we will need a lot of time to put the project together, so we’re asking members to make sure that we receive their pages by the end of June.

If you have any questions, contact Elaine, Niamh Harding, Jane Stark or Noeleen Frain, all of whom will be happy to assist. If you need contact details, email or contact us through our Facebook page.

Small works will not be required until just before the exhibition, probably in October.  They need not be directly related to the sketchbook page, but must be botanical and must not have been exhibited at the NBG previously.  All small works should be framed by the artist.

We’re nearly there!
Hand-in day is at our AGM in NBG on 21 March, and
the Exhibition will run from 13-29 November
in the Visitors’ Centre also in NBG Glasnevin

Members will have received an update-email on 10 January from Elaine Moore-Mackey on the project; here’s some of what she said:
“We had a great get-together on the 23rd of November and I think all were delighted to see some wonderful work being done for the project.  It was lovely to see the variety of subjects and approaches to sketchbooks and underlined the purpose of the project to allow members of all abilities and experience to express their own styles and interests in their personal work. […] I am delighted to see everyone embrace it and am hopeful for an interesting and exciting exhibition in November 2020.
“As you will be aware, the submission date is Saturday the 21st of March, at the AGM, for the sketchbook work.  This is to allow us time to collate, bind and plan the show, which will, by necessity take a different form to our usual offering.
“To get an idea of how much work we can expect we need members to provide some basic information to assist in the planning.  Here is a simple form which you can complete and send back to me by email.  This will be invaluable to us and is much appreciated.”
If you have any questions etc., contact Elaine, Niamh Harding, Jane Stark or Noeleen Frain, all of whom will be happy to assist. If you need contact details, email or contact us through our Facebook page.

Artists: come to our Sceitse Get-together in the National Botanic Gardens on
23 November 2019

About Sceitse

Our project for 2019-20 is a different sort of endeavour than the projects we’ve run to date. We’re asking members to take time to sketch in Irish gardens throughout 2019,  showing how they prepare their work – drawings, colour matching, dissections, habitats… in graphite, watercolour, coloured pencil… some rough sketches, some not so rough! What we want to do is provide insights into the background work that artists carry out to arrive at their final plant portraits. And we want to celebrate the richness and variety of plants available in Irish gardens–big and small–throughout the island.

The resulting pages will be displayed in an exhibition of sketchbooks in the National Botanic Gardens in November 2020 and will be accompanied by a sale of small works from participating artists.

Guidelines for members working on the project

sketch of medlar fruit and leaves

Sketch of medlar by Elaine Moore Mackey

[If you’d like to print these guidelines, you can download a PDF here: Sceitse Guidelines for ISBA Members]

Pages should be completed in a ‘sketchbook’ style.  These are not ‘finished’ paintings.  These are information-gathering studies.  As long as the subject is botanical, you are free to structure the page as you wish, adding notes, colour swatches, small pieces of the plant etc.  Artists have complete freedom to structure their pages as they wish and can paint more than one page if they so wish, on either size page, outlined below.


140lb (300gsm) hot pressed, extra white paper

A3 (297x420mm) or A2 (420x594mm) sheets must be used.


Pages will be bound into the sketchbooks, so a specific format is necessary. Please see the Layout Instructions diagram below on the format.

If you are in any way unsure, please let us know and we can help to clarify.


Irish Gardens

June Blake’s garden in August 2019

Members are encouraged to visit an Irish garden. However, if you cannot get to a garden or prefer to work on a specific plant from your garden, please go ahead and work from any source that is available.

Small Works

Members who participate in the Sketchbook project will be invited to hang one piece of finished work at the 2020 exhibition.  The work should be no larger than 500mm x 550mm framed.  It can be–but is not required to be–related to the sketchbook pages. This work can be for sale, if desired.  Submission details will be requested in 2020.


A number of support days/coffee mornings/trips to gardens are being organised, to assist with any questions or problems that may arise.  Please come along to share your work so far.  Details will be sent by email and post shortly.

This project is intended to include and celebrate the work of all of our artists, at whatever level, so none of the work will be adjudicated.

The success of this project depends on participation by as many members as possible.

Good luck and if you need any assistance, contact Niamh Harding-Miller and Elaine Moore Mackey or

Layout Instructions

Use this size, weight and quality paper:

  • A3 Page – 297 x 420 mm (140lb Hot Pressed Extra White)
  • A2 Page 429 x 594 (140lb Hot Pressed Extra White)

When you’re sketching:

  • Work in Landscape format.
  • Leave an unpainted 20mm margin either side of the centre line between pages 4 and 1 (to allow for binding).
  • You may work across the centre line on pages 2 & 3 only, if you need to work larger.

REMEMBER:  work on the flat page, DO NOT FOLD!

diagram of how to lay out drawing on page

How to work on your page