Art, publishing, cards and prints
The native flowers of this State lack neither numbers nor quality, only publicity.13
Kathleen published her first book in 1959, entitled Queensland Wildflowers. In the 1970s, she published a number of books that focused on specific environments and locations (Pumicestone Passage, The Living River, The Living Beach). Most of her other wildflower works (The Bush in Bloom, Looking at Australian Wildflowers and Living on the Coast) and possibly her most successful Bread and Dripping Days were published in the 1980s.
For decades Kathleen wrote regular columns and articles for local newspapers. These included Wildlife and Landscape in the Caloundra Weekly and Birds of the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine Coast Weekly Advertiser. Kathleen contributed to other series, including Bushland and Seashore in the Nambour Chronicle.
Kathleen had a number of exhibitions of her paintings during her lifetime including in Canberra, Melbourne, Cairns and Brisbane.
To help raise money for the campaigns and to educate others she commissioned prints and cards of her works. Many of these found their way into various collections and many people’s homes across the country.
A gift for a friend – scrapbook for Amy White
Kathleen created a handmade scrapbook for her friend Amy White (nee McConnel) of Buderim.
It contains a selection of her prints, notes about the plants, anecdotes and reflections, and a number of extracts of poetry by Judith Wright.
This scrapbook is held as part of the McConnel Family Collection at the Fryer Library, The University of Queensland. The McConnels are a notable Queensland family who have been pastoralists since the 1800s, owners of Durundur Station and Cressbrook. Amy White was daughter to one of the McConnel’s, she was also a nurse during World War I and a cousin to Anthropologist Ursula McConnel.
Elsewhere Kathleen honours Amy through a Buttercup painting and says:
Amy Beatrice White died on Friday, 31 July, 1981. She was a dear friend, a very fine woman and she grew buttercups in her charming, old-fashioned Buderim garden, in company with lavender, forget-me-nots, English violets and other old-world flowers. Yet hers were Australian buttercups like herself. It gives me much pleasure to pay her this small tribute …14
The wildflower shows
Over 5,000 came to the 1970 show and over 4,000 plants were sold.15
Kathleen’s desire to educate Queenslanders about their own native flowers led to her setting up a native plant nursery at her home ‘Midyim’ in Caloundra. Her paintings were also displayed in the ‘wildflower room’ underneath her house with prints and cards made available for sale.
Kathleen also established the Sunshine Coast wildflower show in 1967. Kathleen hosted five shows at her home which included wildflower displays. Kathleen would rise early to collect specimens from key locations, and the flowers were displayed in a special board she had built.
These shows were the foundation of the Sunshine Coast Wildflower Festival which is still held today.
13. Kathleen Mcarthur, Queensland wildflowers : a selection (Brisbane: Jacaranda Press), 1.
14. Kathleen McArthur, The Bush in Bloom: A Wildflower Artist’s Year in Paintings and Words (Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst, NSW, 1982), 33.
15. Kathleen McArthur, Living on the Coast. (Sydney: Kangaroo Press, 1989), p.49