This is Annie Dorrington

By Gwylym Owen

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Annie Dorrington (19 March 1866 — 21 April 1926) was an Australian artiste who was known for her wildflower paintings and watercolours. She is next one of the designers of the Australian flag.

On 19 March 1866, Annie Whistler was born at Litchfield Ashe, near Southampton, England. She was the second of nine children of Richard Whistler and his wife Sarah Mills (née Vines); she had six sisters and two brothers. Richard was a tenant farmer upon the Foliejon Estate and farm in Winkfield, Berkshire; the intimates claimed to be aligned to the artiste James McNeill Whistler, but this has not been proven. The farm adjoined Windsor Great Park, and Annie and her sisters sometimes axiom Queen Victoria inborn driven through the park. Annie began painting in childhood and she and her sisters enjoyed painting scenes upon the banks of the Thames River.

Richard Whistler died in 1887 and a bailiff named Charles Dorrington, who innovative became Annie’s husband, came to direct the farm. When the Whistler sisters asked their mom the broadcast of their prospective bailiff, she replied, “It could be Ahasuerus for everything I know!” As a result, Charles Dorrington was known by the nickname ‘Asu’ from next on, and Annie would use ‘Ahasuerus’ as a pseudonym considering she superior entered Australia’s national flag competition (see below). Several years after Richard’s death, Sarah emigrated to Melbourne, Victoria, with all nine of her children. Charles Dorrington accompanied them, and in 1892 Charles and Annie were married in St. Alban’s Church of England in Armadale, a suburb of Melbourne. Sarah had not wanted Annie to marry Dorrington and clip her off totally as a result. Many years later, Annie’s niece Kath Dowsing would remember that her state was never mentioned in the family. In 1895, Annie and Charles moved to Western Australia; they lived at Fremantle in 1897 back they moved to Perth in 1898. Charles worked for the Swan River Shipping Company in Perth until 1914, after which he became a shire clerk at Mundijong. The Dorringtons had no children.

It was after the Dorringtons moved to Perth that Annie became known as a painter who specialized in watercolours of Western Australian wildflowers. Her botanical paintings are for the most part moderately detailed and realistic, with some subjects painted in a more impressionistic style and in the same way as more radiant colours. The subjects are often sprays of flowers similar to their leaves, isolated adjacent to a plain background. Typical of the natural world she chose to depict are Orthrosanthus laxus (a small flower commonly known as hours of daylight iris), Chamelaucium aorocladus (known as waxflower), and kangaroo paw. She gave some of her paintings to a friend, Alice Moore, who picked specimen flowers for her in Kings Park.

By 1901, Annie was exhibiting widely, with watercolours in the Western Australian pavilion at the 1900 Paris International Exhibition, the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition, the 1904 St. Louis International Exposition, and the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition, London. The London work included no less than 50 of her paintings. She offered to sell some of them to Bernard Woodward, director of the Western Australian Museum and Art Gallery, but without success. To help maintain herself, Annie taught private painting classes at home from 1902 to 1906, advertising them in the local newspaper.

In 1901, using the pseudonym ‘Ahasuerus’, Annie entered the 1901 Federal Flag Design Competition to design a flag for Australia; hers was one of higher than 30,000 entries. She was the first named and only girl among the five entrants who submitted similar designs, all of which featured the constellation of the Southern Cross. She split a prize of £200 subsequent to the other four additional winners: Ivor Evans (a schoolboy), Leslie John Hawkins (an apprentice optician), Egbert John Nuttall (an architect), and William Stevens (a ship’s officer).

Suffering from depression, Annie had treatments at Claremont Mental Hospital for a few months in 1908 and again in 1918. In 1914, she and her husband moved to Serpentine, where Charles became a farmer and fruit grower. Annie died there of cancer in 1926 at the age of 60 and was buried in Karrakatta Cemetery in an unmarked grave. Charles died nine years later, in 1935, and the taking into consideration year 124 of Annie’s paintings were donated to the Art Gallery of Western Australia. In 1991, her paintings were featured in a survey exhibition mounted by the gallery and when reproduced in the resulting doing catalogue. In 1999, in honour of her contributions to Australian culture, a extra monument to Annie Dorrington was erected at the cemetery.

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