Popular Tasmanian landscape painter Val Whatley died in Deloraine last night, aged 79.
Old friend and former Greens senator Bob Brown said Val has left a fine legacy of artworks and that she had played an important role in the creation of protected areas of Tasmanian wilderness from the Franklin River to the wild forests now in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. “Val captured the spirit of the Tasmanian wilderness in a way which entranced countless others. She backed that up with an active role in the campaigns that saw some of our wilderness areas protected. We have lost a wonderful advocate for nature.”
Valerie Dawn Whatley was born in Launceston in 1941 and had lessons from renowned art teacher Alex Szolomiak at Brooks High School. This led to a career which included sold-out exhibitions, in particular of her oil paintings of wild landscapes, the last of which was in Launceston in 2020.
Val was an ardent conservationist and walked extensively in remote areas of Tasmania. She rafted the Franklin River twice as well as the Denison and Lower Gordon Rivers. Her paintings figured prominently in the campaigns to save these wild rivers and to establish the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area in the 1980s.
Val is survived by her daughter Triana, her son Shane, and their families. A celebration of her life will be held at Liffey in coming weeks.