Portraits of Significant Urban Trees by Artist Fran Lee

Photo of Red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) painting from Portraits of Urban Trees collection in the exhibition For I Have Learned to Look on Nature by Fran Lee. (Image: Trisha Haddock / Vision Times)
Photo of Red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) painting from Portraits of Urban Trees collection in the exhibition For I Have Learned to Look on Nature by Fran Lee. (Image: Trisha Haddock / Vision Times)

Hatch is an Art Gallery in Ivanhoe and I stepped into it finding a magnificent art exhibition about historic trees growing in the area of Banyule. As I admired each painting, I felt as if I met all of the six significant trees personally. A map has been drawn to show you where these trees exist today and continue to grow.

On display by artist Fran Lee is For I Have Learned to Look on Nature. Inspiration for the name of the exhibition came from a line in William Wordsmith’s poem, “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour,” written on July 13, 1798.

Urban Trees by Artist Fran Lee in her exhibition, For I have learned to look on nature.

‘Map of Urban Trees’ by Artist Fran Lee in her exhibition For I Have Learned to Look on Nature. (Image: Trisha Haddock / Vision Times)

From left to right in map above: sugar gum (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) on Abbot Street Fairfield/Darebin Creek; manna gum (Eucalyptus Viminalis) on Darebin Creek; red ironbark (Eucalyptus Sideroxylon) on Corner of Bell Street and Oriel Road; red gum (Eucalyptus Camaldulensis) on RSL Corner of Studley and Upper Heidlelberg Road, Significant tree # 168; mahogany gum (Eucalyptus Botryoides) on Remembrance Park Corner of Studley Road and Banksia Street, Significant Tree #213; and yellow box (Eucalyptus Mellodora) on Grantham Road, Viewbank, significant tree 055.

Artist Fran Lee was inspired by the oldest living trees growing in Banyule. Imagine what it would be like to experience life like a tree? Fran Lee’s spectacular paintings of eucalyptus trees show the trees have endured the changes of their surroundings in the area of Banyule for hundreds of years.

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Photo of yellow box (Eucalyptus mellodora) painting from Portraits of Urban Trees collection in the exhibition For I Have Learned to Look on Nature by Fran Lee. (Image: Trisha Haddock / Vision Times)

The city of Banyule is an area of 24.3 square miles with 21 suburbs in the region. Banyule is northeast of Melbourne and situated in the state of Victoria, Australia. Banyule is an area that is associated with the Heidelberg School of Artists. Of special interest to locals and visitors to the area are Aboriginal archaeological sites, scarred trees, and the significant environmental heritage of unique flora and fauna. Native vegetation consisting of exotic trees and shrubs flourish in open spaces, in parklands by the Yarra River, and in the Plenty Valleys.

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Photo of Mahogany gum (Eucalyptus botryoides) painting from Portraits of Urban Trees collection in the exhibition For I Have Learned to Look on Nature by Fran Lee. (Image: Trisha Haddock / Vision Times)

Each tree is brought to life being painted in such detail and so delicately that all six trees’ own characteristics are shown. All eucalyptus trees looked as if they were reaching out to me. I had to put my hand out to make sure the tree was not sticking out of the painting. Fran Lee has painted her trees to look three dimensional on the canvas.

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Photo of manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) painting from Portraits of Urban Trees collection in the exhibition For I Have Learned to Look on Nature by Fran Lee. (Image: Trisha Haddock / Vision Times)

All trees have been painted individually, like a person. You can see the trees are aged, with the tree bark rippled with wear and tear. These trees are Banyule’s oldest citizens and have experienced many changes to their environmental home. The softness and abundance of leaves show me these trees are thriving in the changes that have taken the area from natural Australian forest to a township that now accommodates many types of people and their different cultures.

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Photo of red ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) painting from Portraits of Urban Trees collection in the exhibition For I Have Learned to Look on Nature by Fran Lee. (Image: Trisha Haddock / Vision Times)

All trees are the same and have an important environmental role that connects us with the trees. People are the same, too, but differ in many ways when seen as individuals. Like a person, the significant trees are taken out of their landscape and painted into a portrait to show us their own beauty and charm, along with our connection to each tree.

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Photo of sugar gum (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) from Portraits of Urban Trees collection in the exhibition For I Have Learned to Look on Nature by Fran Lee. (Image: Trisha Haddock / Vision Times)

Alongside the paintings in the exhibition are sounds of the landscapes from where each tree lives by Vincent Giles. Complementing the paintings is poetry about trees by the [email protected] The exhibition is presented by the Banyule City Council at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space, 14 Ivanhoe Parade, Ivanhoe, VIC. Hatch gallery opening hours are from Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For I Have Learned to Look on Nature, Portraits of Urban Trees by Fran Lee, opened on August 8 and finishes soon on the September 22, 2018.  

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Photo of painting from Portraits of Urban Trees collection in the exhibition For I Have Learned to Look on Nature by Fran Lee. (Image: Trisha Haddock / Vision Times)

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