Tag Archives: Balligar

One Mans Flowers…

Many of the wildflowers in our garden at Balligar in Western Australia have turned out to be weeds – officially declared pests! This has led to much thought about the concept of weeds – or “matter out of place” as described by E.J. Salisbury (a botanist) – and germinated the seeds of a new series. This is a prototype inspired by the Arum Lilies that grow in clumps in the lower part of our property.

Arum Lilies - WA Weed

One Mans Flowers… By Helen Lock

Done using permanent ink and watercolour pencils on Arches Watercolour paper. Border and text added using Publisher.

All comments, critiques, recommendations and suggestions welcome!


Good (Project) Friday

Good Friday 2014 has been and gone but our project lingers on!

This Easter’s project was a painting of a different kind – our 29 year old front veranda.

The Old Canvas

The Old Canvas

First the old canvas had to be stripped back – a load chain, a 4WD, a mattock, a hose, a wire brush and muscle power helped get the job done.

A Load Chain Helped

Balustrade Blank Canvas Aril 2014

The Canvas Is Ready

We felt nervous about the choice of colour, ‘Headland Red’, but it would match the windows and garage doors we’d already done in the hope that it would help to make our dark brick, dark tiled roof house look more homely.

A Work In Progress

A Work In Progress – Acrylic on Jarrah Timber

Yes, a definite improvement.  It took at least 60 hours of painting effort to put two coats on the front balustrade, roof bearer, downpipes and gutters.  Just as well we’re happy with the result.

A Big Improvement

A Big Improvement

When the garden bed in front is prepared and mass planted with native grasses behind a blue flowering ground cover it will look great!  Perhaps more pots on the veranda too.

First though, the side veranda needs attention – feeling happy that it’s half the size of the front one!  Feeling happy too that the paint we used is guaranteed to last as long as we live here!!  We need never paint it again.  Ha! Unless we change our mind about the colour…


PS I have had a drawing project on the go too – when I just had to sit down for a while.  A subject for another day.



We shipped!

Us three late bloomers put our work ‘out there’ for the public so in Steve Job’s terms we have shipped and so are for real!

Three late bloomers

A Painter, A Potter and A Sewer

The first Open Studio Day at Balligar was like a long party that started on Saturday evening with the arrival of two of our helpers and ended with another two helpers leaving on Monday morning, with well over 50 people joining in the fun in between!

There was plenty to see from my tree, people, baby and dog portraits:

Charcoal and Coloured Pencil Portraits of Dogs

Dog Portraits by Helen

to my watercolour wildflower paintings;

Pen and Watercolour

Yellow Eyed Flame Pea – by Helen Lock

to my acrylic paintings with Brenda’s pottery;

Pottery and acrylic paintings

Brenda’s Pottery Under Helen’s Paintings

to Brenda’s pottery with Michele’s quilts;

Pottery and Quilts

Brenda’s Balls with Michele’s Quilt

to all sorts of creations by Michele;

Michele with her creations and interested visitors

Michele with her creations and interested visitors

to art by son Leo;


Pencil on canvas

Closing Out – by Leo Tharby

and the bears from Puffles and Honey Adventures!

Puffles and Honey Adventures

Honey and Isabelle

See more of the bear’s visit, which included transforming fresh laid eggs into chocolate ones much to the delight of our youngest visitors, here.

If anyone is considering holding a similar event:

  • It was worth the huge effort!
  • We met lots of lovely people.
  • We gained confidence in showing our work.
  • We were able to advertise our event for free.
  • We enjoyed a whole day with members of my family who were our helpers
  • We needed all five of our wonderful helpers on the day!

So a big thank you to our helpers:  Kate who greeted people and provided a parking valet service when our parking area got congested; Louise who also greeted people and did a great job as a ‘social butterfly’ helping people and putting them at ease; Ed who was our official photographer and made sure the spirit of the day was captured; Leo who also put his work ‘out there’ and was my cashier for sales of many bookmarks, cards and small prints, and my dear husband Greg who kept everyone hydrated and fed and was totally supportive in us turning our home into a public exhibit!


Balligar Open Studio Day!

To reiterate Steve Jobs‘Real artists ship!’

Now you have the opportunity to see if I and two creative friends, Brenda Faithful and Michele Caddies, are real.  We’re holding the first open studio day at Balligar on Sunday April 6th 11am – 5pm.

Balligart Open Studio 140406 Flyer v0.2

Brenda is an experienced potter who honed her skills under the expert eye of Greg Crowe.  Brenda likes to make functional pots that are also loved.  She mostly uses white stoneware clay, which is modeled on a wheel or by hand.  Brenda makes her own glazes and uses an electric kiln.  Here are some pots waiting to be fired:

Michele  is a very productive sewer in her spare time.  She focuses on quilts and home furnishings – from functional doorstops to romantic garlands and everything in between!  All beautifully finished.

You can see more about Michele and her creations at Michele Sews.

As for me, I think my About page says enough!
We look forward to meeting those of you who make it to our first open day.  Here’s how you can find us in Mount Helena, Western Australia:

Balligart Open Studio 140406 Flyer v0.2 Back Page

Feeling cobblywobbly,

I’m A Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins?!

‘You’r a cotton headed ninny muggins’ is an insult with various meanings – in my case I think the “someone who feels like they can’t do something right” meaning fits best.

What brought this to mind is identifying a cluster of ground hugging, tiny yellow blooms as ‘Conostylis Setigra‘, better known (as far as I’m concerned) as ‘Bristly Cottonhead’.

Bristly Cottonhead Cropped

Bristly Cottonhead At Balligar 🙂

This is my attempt at capturing the modest Cottonhead in the style of my pen and watercolour series depicting wildflowers at ‘Balligar’ – our home.

Conostylis Setigera

Bristly Cottonhead By Helen Lock

This tufted, evergreen perennial is endemic to the south west of Western Australia.  It flowers between late winter and late spring and actually likes hot, overhead sun and extended dry periods.  It also tolerates high winds and light frost!

The long hairs on the leaves gave this Cottonhead its Bristly name – hard to depict in a series designed to be reminiscent of leadlight designs.  I’m just a cotton-headed ninny muggins!


Spring Sprung!

Spring arrived all of a sudden after a long, cold, wet winter in the Perth Hills, WA!
Faces called flowers started to float out of the ground (to misquote E. E. Cummings) and Balligar (our property) was floated in native, wild ones.

This is one of the first of the flowers to arrive in our garden this Spring. I captured it in pen and watercolour:

Grevillea Olivacea - Helen Lock

Grevillea Olivacea – Helen Lock

Olive Grevillea is a handsome shrub endemic to the south west of Western Australia.
Its small leaves resemble those of the European Olive hence its name.  The flowers range in colour from creamy yellow, through apricot to red.  This shrub is featured on the Grow Me Instead website which promotes alternatives to invasive plants.

I love the spidery look of Grevillea flowers, even though I’m arachnaphobic – and with good reason according to Bill Bryson in ‘A Sunburned Country’:

No one knows, incidentally, why Australia’s spiders are so extravagantly toxic; capturing small insects and injecting them with enough poison to drop a horse would appear to be the most literal case of overkill. Still, it does mean that everyone gives them lots of space.


PS Grandson arrived safely with Spring 🙂 🙂 🙂

Gazanias Laugh At Drought!

Gazanias are popular in Australia because they do well in dry, poor soils and provide brightly coloured flowers over a long period.

Gazania At Balligar

Gazania At Balligar

We have an assortment of Gazanias growing themselves at Balligar.  The brilliant colours and form of an unfurling bloom prompted me to make this coloured pencil rendering:

Gazania Orange by Helen Lock

Gazania Orange by Helen Lock

Every Silver Lining…

Unfortunately the success of the Gazanias, which are native to South Africa, hinders regeneration of native flora and may have a flow on impact to native fauna. They can certainly add to the rabbit problem as rabbits are rather partial to eating them.

This means I’m in for some serious weeding to keep them under control now Autumn is here.  I know I’ll be rewarded in spring with a show of native wildflowers too.