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Canberra Today 3°/9° | Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Artist Cheryl’s creative buzz over native bees

Cheryl Hodges’ painting of a chequered cuckoo bee (thyreus caeruleopunctatus).

“People say, ‘I used to love my hobby until it became my job,’ and it is a bit like that, but I still love it,” says botanical and insect artist Cheryl Hodges.

Jerrabomberra local, Cheryl, used to work full-time for a consulting company as a business manager.

She is now a full-time artist, specialising in botanical and insect art.

“It was very much the other side of the brain,” she says. 

“I did a one-day class in 1999, I was just feeling creative and trying all different things, and then once I did that class, I thought, I finally found my thing.

“I’m a detailed person, and in botanical art, it needs to be detailed and it’s encouraged to be detailed. 

“It was just once a month while I was working full time, and it has built up since then, and now I’m an artist full time.”

Until April 1, Cheryl is hosting her solo exhibition, A Charm of Native Bees, at the Australian National Botanical Garden’s Visitor Centre Gallery.

Callohesma flavopicta… one of insect artist Cheryl Hodges’ paintings of native bees.

“I’ve only done a couple of solo exhibitions before and there’s always a lot of work, and both times I’ve said: ‘Why did I do that? That’s too hard and I’m not doing it again,’ and then I come up with these ideas and then I go: ‘Yeah, I’m gonna do it again’,” she says. 

“I’ll be having the framed paintings, probably between 20 and 25 paintings and some of them are in that sort of scientific style, where you can really see the whole bee, and then some of them are more in-situ on the plant. 

“I’ll be writing about them as well, but I’ll also have a cabinet there that will actually have the real bees. 

“So you can sort of look at the painting and then go back and see how tiny the bee is. 

“I’m also going to run a one-day adult painting workshop during the exhibition as well. 

“I used to teach regularly but I don’t now, because it was taking me away from my own painting too much and I just couldn’t get that balance. 

“I’ve probably been teaching botanical art for maybe about 12 years, then the insect illustrations as well.

“Once I started teaching, I had to delve more into the insects because you really need to know about their structure and even things about their life cycle, they’re so quirky and they’re so different. 

“That’s the thing that I’m hoping for with this exhibition, for people to realise what’s actually in Canberra. 

“If you just go plant a few native plants, it’s amazing what sort of native insects, not just bees, but all different sorts of pollinators you’ll attract to your garden. 

“It just piques people’s interest without it being shoved down their throat.

“I’ve always liked that kind of scientific style and for me it kind of feels old worldly. 

“And my painting style is a little bit soft as well, I try to keep them kind of ethereal, I suppose.” 

Insect artist Cheryl Hodges… “I’m a detailed person, and in botanical art, it needs to be detailed and it’s encouraged to be detailed. Photo: Katarina Lloyd Jones

Cheryl says she has always loved and been fascinated by nature.

“I grew up on a property out past Hall, my parents they’re typical farmers, and then I’ve lived in Jerrabomberra since 1998,” she says.

“It’s a really great community, and I also love all this bushland.

Cheryl has been working in the botanical and insect art space for 25 years now and says she has noticed a significant boost in the style’s popularity.

“There’s certainly been a massive resurgence in botanical art. So a lot of people have been interested in that,” she says.

“The insects not so much, but again, I think that is going to increase in popularity as well. 

“Art is a really good communicator without it being in people’s face too much and there’s so much fascinating information about these insects.”

Visit botanic-gardens/do/whats-on for event information.

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Katarina Lloyd Jones

Katarina Lloyd Jones

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