Art chat – The Conservatory & Co

Nestled amongst the pawpaw trees and swaying palms at the top of the botanical gardens something exciting is happening… a team of artist friends have been gathering.

Busily filling an old elevated house that I have walked past for many years above the aptly named “Snake bean garden” with handcrafted pieces of beauty – little ceramic creatures, whimsical paintings, textiles, cushions featuring the very birds who fly by the windows, jewellery, trinkets and so much more awaits those who visit … and visit I did earlier this week as curiosity got the better of me and I reached out to the artist Isabel Lopez and her friend Shae Maree who together have driven this new venture with the help of a swag of artists who have provided their work up for sale.

I quizzed the ladies on just what they are up to in this divine space:

What or who inspires you?
Shae: Nature and natures creatures.
Isabel: Nature is my muse, totally in love with anything and everything from our natural environment.
How did you get started in the art world?
Shae: I believe I got my drawing card to Art from birth, from my father, a natural born artist with a great talent for drawing and hands-on things.
I have been in Arts Management in the past.
Isabel: how long do you have? I was born this way, my earliest memories involve some sort of art making, even if it was only experimenting and ruining my father’s art supplies. My parents were very creative, Dad was an architect, photographer and could draw like no one else.. i inherited it from him (except his drawing skills, mine came from practising a lot, his came naturally).
Do you think artists are born or trained? Tell me a little about your beliefs on this.
Shae: I believe it’s born. Natural talent and an eye for design seems to shine through on particular people. Of course you can learn technical skill or the process for creating a piece of art, but to have that real alignment of all things necessary to make a stand out piece – I think that comes from within.
Isabel: I believe we are all born with whatever talent (arts. science etc) but it is how we grow up and what we do that fosters our talents.
Why are you opening “The conservatory and co” and what do you hope to achieve in this venture?
Shae: To bring something new and exciting to the beautiful botanical gardens. To showcase the stunning work of very talented local artists and give people a nice place to shop and enjoy. We hope to share beautiful works in a beautiful setting. Did I mention…. it’s beautiful? Haha.
Isabel: Having my own art shop has been a goal for some time, and to have the opportunity to do so in partnership with Shae and the support of the Botanic Gardens is just surreal. We wanted to bring to Darwin a place to showcase the beautiful works of so many talented local makers and the gardens are the perfect backdrop for such venture. We aim at generating a hub, a destination for locals and visitors in the botanic gardens.
What are you currently working on?
Shae: I am the management side of the force, working on the website (to sell online products) marketing and seeking out some exciting collaboration opportunities.
I enjoy a bit of sewing and crafting so I might be making some earrings, bags and cushions in the near future.
Isabel: I am currently working on lots of things at once, finalising paintings for an upcoming exhibition in late September, setting up the new shop and studio with Shae and working on my latest ceramic collection.
Are there any current art trends you love or are following?
Shae: I’m not one for trends as I tend to stick to classics
Isabel: I too am not one for trends, trends come and go it’s a lot of hard work to keep up, I too stick to classics or to whatever makes my heart sing.
The Conservatory and Co. website is still under construction so in the meantime you can follow them below:
See more about the lovely Isabel on the link below and read on for her interesting full bio – Isabel Lopes  Visual Artist 

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Isabel grew up surrounded by nature. From playing in her grandparents’ garden to camping trips Isabel has always been immersed in the natural world. Her earliest memories include playing with mud, reinventing her world and ‘going on adventures’ with her pet dog, but in reality their adventures never went further than the garden boundaries. Isabel also played with her father’s art materials, exploring her curiosity whilst ruining what she later found out to be photographic paper.

Isabel studied fine art and design in high school, followed by a diploma in photography, a jewellery apprenticeship, silversmithing, and later a degree in landscape architecture.

In her early 20’s Isabel moved to Australia, working and living in Sydney, the harbour city provided endless inspiration with its beautiful landscapes.

Isabel currently works from her studio at the Botanic Gardens in Darwin, where she is constantly influenced by its natural surroundings, This work consists of illustrations, ceramic art and paintings, all fuelled by her deep love for nature.

Isabel has her work spread throughout private collections around the world, including UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, USA, Japan and Australia to name a few and currently sells her work at various art events/exhibitions and as well as this newest little gallery.


The Conservatory & Co officially opens today so hurry up the creaking stairs for a look at what treasures are to be found in the old house at the top of the garden.