Who will win the $5000 art prize this year?

This is (an admittedly poor reproduction of) Lesley Elkan's prize winning entry from 2008. The winner for 2009 will be announced on Thursday night in the Red Box Gallery, Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

What's is all about? Well this is the sixth Margaret Flockton Award. It all began seven years ago, when one of our Friends, Margot Child, and I listened to an apparently very persuasive presentation by our two botanical artists, Lesley Elken and Catherine Wardrop.

The talk was all about Margaret Flockton, the first botanical illustrator at Sydney’s Botanic Gardens. From 1901 to 1928, Flockton executed hundreds of botanically accurate drawings, lithographs and coloured sketches, and left a legacy of over 1000 high quality illustrations.

Lesley and Catherine lamented the lack of a fitting memorial to Margaret Flockton, and Margot and I thought an art competition for black and white botanical illustrations would be the best way to honour her name. The Friends soon stepped in to fund a prize.

At first the Friends sourced the prize from their general revenue-raising, but Sue Maple-Brown has now stepped in to give the Friends the money they need each year. Sue attended a talk just like the one Margot and I went to all those years ago – once again, Catherine and Lesley won over their audience.

First prize is $5000, second prize $2000. Who will win? Whose oeuvre will reign supreme?