Author(s): Janet Hawley
For more than twenty years Wendy Whiteley has worked to create a public garden at the foot of her harbourside home in Sydney's Lavender Bay. This is the extraordinary story of how a determined, passionate and deeply creative woman has slowly transformed an overgrown wasteland into a beautiful sanctuary for everyone to enjoy - and in the process, transformed herself.
Wendy Whiteley was Brett Whiteley's wife, muse and model. An artist herself, with a finely honed aesthetic sense, she also created the interiors at the heart of Brett's iconic paintings of their Lavender Bay home. When Brett died, followed by the death nine years later of their daughter Arkie, Wendy threw her grief and creativity into making an enchanting hidden oasis out of derelict land owned by the New South Wales Government. This glorious guerrilla garden is Wendy's living artwork, designed with daubs of colour, sinuous shapes and shafts of light.
This is Wendy's story but it's also the story of the countless people who cherish the Secret Garden.
'I've loved making this garden. It's been a great gift to my life. It let me find myself again, and it's my gift to share with the public.' Wendy Whiteley
Janet Hawley enjoyed a huge readership in her thirty-year career as senior feature writer on Good Weekend Magazine, published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
She's renowned for her intimate profiles of artists and creative people, and trusted by her interview subjects to explore their private worlds and mysteries of the creative process.
She's published two books on artists, Artists In Conversation and Encounters With Australian Artists. Her book A Place On The Coast, co-authored with Philip Cox, explores love of gardens, art and architecture.
Her wide-ranging feature writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian has won her numerous major awards, including two Walkley Awards and the Gold Walkley.
Janet's long friendship with Brett and Wendy Whiteley led to her writing the story of Wendy's major opus, the Secret Garden.