Artist Profile
Your friend the enemy

Deirdre Bean

Deirdre's watercolour paintings reveal the beautiful forms that can be found within nature. Her close study of her subjects result in intricate detailing and subtle graduation of tones, creating botanically correct depictions.


Painting in watercolour on paper and vellum, her meticulous artworks are created out of many patient hours. 

Deirdre’s involvement with Your Friend the Enemy follows after her first visit to Gallipoli in 2013, resulting in a response that has developed conceptually overtime.  She states, “The first visit prepared me for the 2014 trip.  I wanted to have something of the landscape in my work, something tangible.  My work is precise and detailed, usually on clean white paper.  I wanted to subvert this pristine presentation somehow and it became obvious I needed to immerse my paper in the soil where so many of our young men died.  I chose The Nek, one battle site where their blood and bones have become one with the earth.

I chose to paint the landscape as they saw it; the micro landscape if you like, of the flora, shells, and small creatures they may have laid amongst as they thought of home and the ones they held dear.  On this paper I painted images of flora and found objects.  It was a few days into the expedition when I was offered findings of fellow artists on the trip.  Pieces they’d found in the field; bullets, both live and spent, shrapnel, and pieces of a broken pottery rum jar.  Some of these I incorporated into my work as tangible evidence of our 1915 campaign in a landscape now back to its vivid glory rudely thriving on what lies beneath.”

Deirdre lives and works in Sydney and Port Douglas in Far North Queensland where she is painting the mangroves of Australia.  Environmental threats to Australia’s flora has inspired Deirdre to paint species of environmental importance and vulnerability. 

Bean has won a gold medal at the Royal Horticultural Society in London for her series of eight Syzygium species in 2006, and a Silver-gilt medal for her series of Australian mangroves in 2012. In 2013 Deirdre was commissioned by Australia Post to paint four stamps of the shrubs of Christmas Island.

Image 1: Cape Helles, 2014, watercolour on paper and vellum
Image 2: .303 inch British Mk VII 2014, watercolour on paper and vellum
Courtesy the artist

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