Elaine Moore Mackey was one of the main organisers behind our first and very successful Open Day at the National Botanic Gardens on 04 February. Here she provides an overview of the day. Many thanks to June Wright for the photographs.

Saturday was a beautiful, cold and sunny day in the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin.  With the weather on our side we were hopeful that we would tempt some interested visitors to come and see what the Society was all about.  Being the first Open Day held by the ISBA,  it was difficult to predict if the event would work, who might come and whether our displays and information tables would hit the mark.

A beautiful day at the National Botanic Gardens …

We needn’t have worried.  From early in the day we had a steady stream of visitors, some just passing and many who made a special effort to attend.

A number of artists brought cards, calendars, prints and other items and they sold like hot cakes.  The Children’s Table was a hive of activity, allowing a few Mums and Dads to watch demonstrations and talk to our members, safe in the knowledge that Trish and Noeleen had their offspring fully occupied.

Early in the day – and the sales area is set up with all sorts of cards, prints etc., all work of ISBA members

Artists’ demonstrations attracted and held the attention of fellow artists and visitors alike, providing an opportunity to share techniques and experiences, as well as the process, which is normally a pretty solitary pursuit.  Speaking personally, giving a demonstration enlivens my enthusiasm for botanical art and sharing with experienced and beginner artists alike is a wonderful way to learn and engage, for both demonstrator and audience.

Elaine sets up her coloured pencil demo.

It was especially gratifying to note how many existing members came along and the day was a wonderful opportunity to meet each other, exchange news and plans, or just have a chat.  It is the members who make the Society, so getting together is vital.  With information on tuition, the upcoming Worldwide Day of Botanial Art, membership and the launch of our new website, there was no shortage of things to discuss, the noise levels were reassuringly high all day!

Shevaun’s demo on painting on vellum; Fionnuala shows the new website to Giulia

Stephen Butler of Dublin Zoo gave a very well-received talk in the Auditorium at 2pm, rounding off a super day.  Many members of the Irish Garden Plant Society who attended the talk came up to see us too, allowing a little ‘cross-pollination’ between the two Societies, which is always welcome, particularly after our successful joint project Heritage Irish Plants/Plandaí Oidhreachta.   At the end of the day we raffled Michael Campbell’s beautiful painting of Primula ‘Drumcliff’, which was won by Mary Killian.  The proceeds of the raffle go to the Simon Community, a charity for the homeless, so thank you Michael and all who purchased tickets.

Our first Open Day served to demonstrate that the Irish Society of Botanical Artists is very much a vibrant, active and busy society.  Thanks to all who attended, helped out and contributed to making it a great success.