Emily Rose Twynam has a resolute look in her portrait displayed at historic National Trust property, Riversdale.
Few would guess at the artistic talent abiding within but thankfully, physical reminders have remained all around her.
Wood carvings, embroidery works and sketches give but a hint of a creative flair nurtured in her fifties.
Now, 111 years after her death, four of Emily Twynam's sketch books will be copied and displayed for all to see at the Goulburn property. MP Wendy Tuckerman announced the project had scored $2000 under round one of the state's 2021 Museums and Galleries NSW Devolved Volunteer Museums Small Grants program.
Great-grandson, Stephen Horn, said Emily was an accomplished artist, as reflected in the seven A4 size sketch books held by descendants.
"Most are completed in India ink and all are of nature," he said.
"She was known for her wood carvings and some of these sketches match the elements in her carvings (and artworks) on display at Riversdale," he said.
Emily Bolton was born in 1845 and married District Surveyor of Goulburn, Edward Twynam in 1866. They leased Riversdale in 1872, purchased it in 1875 and raised a family of five there.
Mr Horn said Emily only took up art in her fifties but constantly sketched flora and fauna, both native and introduced. The sketch books, each 20 pages, include drawings of oak leaves and acorns, banksias, Kurrajong leaves, flowers and gums. They span 1890 to 1905.
One of Emily's carved wooden frames depicts kurrajong leaves. Inside is a portrait of her daughter, Phoebe, and above, a large certificate recognising her win in the The World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 for a hand-knitted 'counterpane.'
Nearby stands another of her works - a 1907 chair with elaborate oak and acorn carvings, lion heads on its arms and a Latin inscription - Non Inferiora Secutus (follow none but the highest). The design is also reflected in Emily's 1904 sketch book.
In another room hang three large woollen embroidery works which Emily designed and family friend Louise de Lauret completed. Two of the panels (a pair) have images of the fruit - apples, cherries, pears, plums, and apricots and parrots. The third shows the natural bush with waratahs, willy wagtail and parrots.
The women jointly exhibited them in the 1907 Melbourne Exhibition.
Riversdale collections manager Rebecca Pinchin said Emily drew her inspiration from the natural world, her garden and the Australian bush.
"Her work is astounding," she said.
"The Riversdale artworks were done by women who were intellectual, resourceful and who had leisure time."
Emily's stamp is also apparent in a carved hall settle, linen box, ornate picture frames, door stop and other items. Her artworks are the primary collection objects on display in the north Goulburn house museum.
Ms Pinchin said the funding allowed four sketchbooks to be digitised and flip-books produced for display alongside the artworks which they inspired. The Trust will work with the family to scan the remaining three books.
The project was instigated by Mr Horn's sister-in-law and curator Ann Proudfoot, who previously organised an exhibition of Emily's works at Canberra's Lanyon Homestead.
In research, Mrs Proudfoot stated that despite Emily's participation in exhibitions, her work was mainly for "personal pleasure" and gifts in her family circle. She suspected she had undergone formal training at some point.
"To study Emily's sketchbooks is in some way to glimpse her life - her family, social circle and enthusiasms," she wrote.
"(She) seems to have been at home in the role of quiet matriarch, exemplary member of the Anglican Church and a loyal subject of the Crown in the newly federated Australia."
Emily died in 1910, aged 65, and Riversdale remained in the family until 1967 when Joan Twynam offered it to the National Trust.
Mr Horn, who grew up around the "Twynam aunts" said the digitisation project was timely because the original sketch books were scattered among various descendants.
"We all treasure them and this project will bring them together and rescue them," he said.
"They definitely belong at Riversdale where Emily did a lot of her work."
Mrs Pinchin said a Canberra company would scan the books. She hoped to organise an exhibition at the property following completion, with Mr Horn and other family members present.
- Riversdale is located at 2 Twynam Drive. It will re-open on Sundays from September 5 10am - 2pm. Ph. 4821 4741.
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