Dr. Mary van den Berk creates personalised mementoes of loved people, pets, places and events.

Treasure a legacy with unique artworks and photo-books.


Message on a Bottle

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Installation, mixed media on canvas paper.

In September 2019, my art students at Coast Art Centre and I began to discuss seaweed. Seaweed has vast potential to address environmental issues: it grows abundantly on nearby beaches and thrives on carbon dioxide. It also reduces methane emissions when added to cattle feed, and is a valued ingredient in aquaculture and healthcare products. My students responded with enthusiasm. They love the coastline, but are upset — even angry — about the state of the marine environment. Over the months following, our artistic explorations expanded to our oceans' broader health.

We shared reading material and video links in class. My students were most concerned with plastic over-use, general over-consumption, recycling, and chemical disposal. We settled upon a consistent format — a 20×20cm canvas — to facilitate a group installation, and the students expressed their concerns using watercolours, acrylic and textiles.

The Covid-19 lockdowns cut short our vibrant group meetings. We moved discussion online. Meanwhile, the environment improved from reduced human activity, and our subject matter became even more pertinent.

Students' daily exercise became opportunities to assist the environmental healing. The students collected rubbish from beaches and roadways, and while doing so, extended our group's conversations to their families and friends. Enthusiasm grew as awareness spread, and the students further deepened their knowledge and understanding with impressive independent research. We connected every 4-6 weeks, and officially reconvened in early 2021. The group had now grown to include members from Vashti Taverner’s art therapy class at Centennial Park.

My students continued working to discuss artistically the state of the ocean, keen to passionately express themselves. We included new materials in our work, most notably collected beach detritus. We agreed together that our art aims to increase awareness about our environmental concerns, and so to change behaviour. The 'Sea Worriers' exhibition is the result of our work.

Printed images made for the "Sea Worriers" exhibition (comprises 150 printed milk bottles), beach detritus.

© Mary van den Berk 2021

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Sea Worriers

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Several pieces each 20×20cm, mixed media on canvas.


Paints include acrylic and watercolour, juxtaposed with materials from beach combing, recycling, repurposed council refuse pickups, old books, beach detritus, sea glass, shells, flotsam and jetsam.

© Mary van den Berk 2020

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Land and Environment

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29.7×22cm, mixed media on canvas paper.

Centennial Park trees, Sydney, NSW.

Paint, and hessian cloth.

© Mary van den Berk 2020

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Time For Truth

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1.7×1.3m, double-sided, up-cycled fabrics.

After encountering Bruce Pascoe’s “Dark Emu,” I was compelled to acknowledge that the official version of Australia's history is not the full truth.

Pascoe makes a compelling argument for a reconsideration of pre-colonial indigenous Australians' as 'hunter-gatherers.' He shows evidence that Aboriginal people were domesticating, sowing, harvesting and irrigating plants, and storing their produce.

Had I lived when our history was untruthfully recorded, I would have been making sampler quilts and needlework. My quilt here re-interprets history: centre pieces are hand-embroidered botanical drawings of Aboriginal plants.

© Mary van den Berk 2019/20

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Postman Colin

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43×43 cm, mixed media on canvas.

Colin is my cheerful local postman in Sydney's 2011 propinquity. Colin was first drawn on canvas, then mono-print painted into with acrylic and oil. Lastly, embroidery is incorporated for added texture.

Drawing, acrylic, oil and embroidery on canvas.

© Mary van den Berk 2019

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Meroogal Garden & Chooks

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43×43cm, mixed media on canvas.

A 'MAD Monday' event on "Resilience" informed this subject matter: Meroogal Gardens.

Growing and raising our own food benefits individuals, communities, and our planet. One of the stories told at the event discussed a "war effort" of growing one's own vegetables and raising one's own chickens ('chooks'): creating a resilient food garden. Today’s popular "Edible Balconies" are in the same vein.

Inspired by the Belle Thorburn work 'Feeding The Chooks' (circa 1925), I incorporated drawn, painted and embroidered chooks, referenced from a photograph of Massaro Community Farm in the United States.

Pencil, acrylic paint and hand embroidery on canvas. A finalist in Meroogal Women’s Art prize 2018.

© Mary van den Berk 2018

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Tribute Vestiges

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Sculpture and imagery, mixed media.

This installation work explores how personal memories live on after death in familiar objects. It was created for the Hidden Sculpture Walk at Rookwood Cemetery, in 2014.

Mannequins wear clothing that previously belonged to someone who passed. Digital prints, including photographs, memorabilia and significant items, are sewn into the garment.

The jacketed mannequin represents my father, who passed months earlier. The 'high-viz' vest represents my brother Ged, who died six years earlier.

A memory box in the form of an old metal chest is also provided for visitors to add names and messages to someone they have loved and lost.

© Mary van den Berk 2013/14

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India — Cricket & Colour

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76×101cm, oil on canvas.

Inspired by travel to India.

© Mary van den Berk 2011

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43×43cm, mixed media on arts paper.

The Conversations exhibition is based on old family photographs: familiar, while hauntingly transient. I digitally created images, re-contextualising old photographs to create new meaning by incorporating new backgrounds, fabric and textural painting. A final layer is hand-drawn, framing the melding of the memories and re-interpretations together through one's individual experience.

This particular piece shows the van Sas family. The photographs were taken at Helmond Castle in the Netherland, in the early 1960s. They have been re-contextualised on railway tracks in Eskdale, New Zealand.

Digital prints, fabric and textured painting on arts paper.

© Mary van den Berk 2012

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I'm Dr. Mary van den Berk.

I am an artist based in Potts Point, Sydney.

My art practice has three aspects:

  1. My continuing body of work, which currently focuses mostly on the environment.
  2. My Tribute-Art, in which I use my social work expertise to create and help others to create personalised art tributes and books of stories and memories.
  3. My commissioned work.

My focus

I have always been a painter of transience and memory.

I aim to visually capture moments imbued with the essences of people, events or places. I am fascinated by fleeting moments which, when revisited as memories, reveal greater depth and meaning.

Following Australia's devastating bushfires, I have begun to create art focused on the environment and climate change.

Previous work

My previous work focused on where I live – Sydney's postcode 2011 propinquity. My mixed-media works began in photography, which inspired drawings, translated into mono print, and painted into with acrylic and/or oil. I have also incorporated tactile embroidery into my art's final layers.

Early work

My early work incorporated family photography, exploring its familiarity and its haunting transience. I digitally created images that re-contextualised photographs to create new meaning, incorporating different backgrounds that included fabric and texture. A final hand-drawn layer framed the melding of the memories and re-interpretations together through individual experience, to create unique multi-layered artworks.

Get in touch

Click here to read my full CV.

If you are interested in purchasing one of my art works, in commissioning an artwork, or working with Tribute-Art, please enquire below.


Click here to read testimonials about my Tribute-Art work.

Send me an email:
mary [@] maryvandenberk.com
Click here to go back to the enquiry form.

Kaylene Anderson

"Thanks so much, Mary, for the painting and war history of Dad. I didn’t have a painting; photos yes, but not many. When I went through my albums of more than 60 years, I was quite shocked at how few I had. So, this combined book and painting will certainly be displayed and admired by the family.

"It has been an interesting process for the historian to delve extensively into his war history and there have been a few surprises. The finished product has been shared amongst family and friends and is a hard copy of his war years to keep and treasure for posterity."

David Hickey

"I have read through the entire story and find it both fascinating and quite emotional. It’s a beautiful publication. Congratulations and my grateful thanks for the book. I’m just sorry that Ian isn’t around to see what he started."

Marjorie Nees

"I have very little information about my father’s family. Thank you for bringing his story to life in such a beautiful way."

Geoff Piggott

"A fantastic job on our stories and presentation; I am floored it is so good."

Daphne Amos

I would like to thank you very much for the work you did to complete the book about my career. Many people have said “what a beautiful presentation,” others, “what an interesting career.”