Fay Anderson

Fay Anderson (Mrs R. Geary-Cooke)

It is with great pleasure that we announce the awarding of Life Membership of BAASA to internationally acclaimed botanical artist, Fay Anderson, for a lifetime dedicated to the recording and promoting of South African flora.

Fay was born in Lahore, northern India (now Pakistan). Until the age of 15 she was schooled in India, when she was sent to boarding school in England. Her mother was artistic and her stepfather, a scientist and keen gardener, encouraged her to draw flowers. In 1951 her family came to South Africa en route to Australia and decided to settle in Cape Town. She attended the Michaelis School of Fine Art, where she received a Diploma in Fine Art. She started her illustrious career as a botanical artist as a research assistant to Professor Edwyn Isaac in the Department of Botany at the University of Cape Town, for whom she mainly did drawings and painted seaweeds.

She went overseas for a year and became engaged to Richard Geary-Cooke who was in the Navy. In 1961 she married Richard in Malaya. He was released from the Navy the following year and they settled in Kenilworth, Cape Town.

Her accomplished watercolours have graced the pages of many publications, including Flowering Plants of Africa with over 60 plates (1959–2005 over more decades than any other artist!) and numerous artworks published in Veld & Flora; What Protea is that? (Rycroft 1970); Common Weeds in South Africa, Botanical Survey Memoirs no. 37 (1966); Ericas of southern Africa (Baker & Oliver 1967); Some Protected Wild Flowers of the Cape Province (1967); A Revision of the South African Species of Gladiolus (Lewis & Obermeyer with Barnard 1972); Proteas of southern Africa (Rourke 1980); The Moraeas of southern Africa (Goldblatt 1987); The Genus Watsonia (Goldblatt 1989); The Woody Iridaceae (Goldblatt 1993) and The Gladiolus of southern Africa (Goldblatt & Manning 1998). Furthermore, two of her illustrations appear in Blunt and Stearn’s The Art of Botanical Illustration.
Fay was awarded the very prestigious Cythna Letty Medal from the Botanical Society of South Africa in 1988 for her “significant contribution to the promotion of the South African flora through the medium of botanical illustration”.

Fay has always worked as a freelance artist. Her beautiful paintings have been exhibited around the world and form part of important corporate collections including the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation, Pittsburg, USA; The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, London; Missouri Botanical Gardens, St Louis, USA; South African National Biodiversity Institute in Pretoria and Cape Town as well as the Shirley Sherwood Collection at Kew Gardens.

In 1988 a collection of original plates by Fay and Irma Kerr from Ericas of southern Africa was awarded the Grenfell Gold Medal by the Royal Horticultural Society, London. In 1980 and 1984, some of her work was included in group entries of Flowering Plants of Africa artworks, entered by the Botanical Research Institute (now SANBI) and awarded RHS Gold medals.

As a person, Fay is humble and considerate in nature. She shows tremendous dedication to projects she’s involved in and is truly inspirational to work with.

We offer Fay our warm congratulations on an astoundingly productive career and express our deep gratitude for such a wealth of inspiration shared with all lovers of plants.