The Whirlies is a group of experienced botanical illustrators who have met on a weekly basis for over thirty years. As well as producing individual art works, they instigated the inaugural, The Art of Botanical Illustration Exhibition (TABI) and were heavily involved in running it for many years. This has now become an internationally renowned exhibition.
The Whirlies has also organised and participated in a number of group projects. The first was illustrating many of the oaks growing in the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens (RBGV). The Friends’ calendar of 2007 featured many of these paintings. Their next project was to illustrate many of the Eucalypts growing in the Gardens.
Following on the theme of illustrating a particular genus of plants, the Acacia Project was launched. This concentrated on rare and endangered Acacias growing in the Gardens. A book was published of these illustrations with all profits going to Acacia research.
The paintings of all three genera were donated to the State Botanical Collection, which provided an important record of species growing in the Gardens at a particular time.
The Whirlies has also produced an A-Z book of Australian Plants titled Alphabotanical. which proved to be very popular and went into a second printing. All profits were donated, through the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne (FRBGM), to the RBGV, Melbourne Gardens.
Another project in the very early stages is illustrating extant plants that the botanist Robert Brown collected on Arthur’s Seat whilst on his voyage in The Investigator with Matthew Flinders. This close-knit group of artists is presently illustrating significant trees in the Gardens.