Just a biography of the painter Julia Birkhead

A self-taught artist, Julia Birkhead selected watercolour as the medium most suited to her meticulously accurate portrayals of natural history. Successfully capturing the essence of whatever animal, bird, plant or insect she painted, she was inundated with commissions from the 1980’s until well into the 21st century. Her association with RJ Hanson-Moore, a printer and distributor of calendars, cards, memo-pads, bridge scorers and year planners – largely for charity organisations – led to many painting requests from the Wildlife Society of SA, the SPCA, Guide Dogs for the Blind, and the Avril Elizabeth Home, to mention just a few.

Surprisingly, Julia’s first philatelic commission was not for a watercolour portrait, but for a logo for the JUNASS FDC of GEBEKS 1988. This graphic has been incorporated in all subsequent JUNASS covers. Following this, she painted a series of doves (Transkei 1993) and one of starlings (Venda 1994). She and Denis Murphy each painted five water-birds for the 1997 World Environment Day Wetlands FDCs, with the stamps produced as a mini-sheet for Ilsapex 1998. Namphil also commissioned a series of finches, which were printed as a mini-booklet in 2000.

A car accident in 2012, followed by a stroke, put paid to any further painting by this wonderfully talented artist.


Dear Readers,

In order to raise funds for the planned 2021 Cape Town International Exhibition, a set of ten postcards depicting original artworks by Mrs. Julia Birkhead (wife of the late Harry Birkhead RDPSA) has been produced for sale to collectors.

The cards will be sold in a packet of 10 designs, depicting indigenous birds and small animals. (See below)

Orders may be placed with Emil Minnaar
Tel. 061 983 2942 or by
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

These cards will also be on sale at SAPDAPEX 2017 National Exhibition.

The selling price will be R100 plus Postage and Packaging of R10.
Payment may be made by EFT to the account of:

Philatelic Federation of SA
Standard Bank
Swift Code: SB ZAZAJJ
Branch Code:  012 442
Account Number: 023 304 669

or to our PAYPAL account: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The original water colour paintings will be auctioned at SADAPEX National Exhibition immediately after the Philatelic auction to be held by SAPDA. As an indication of the estimate price per painting we can inform you that a starting bid of R2,000 per painting has already been received. The artist will be at the SAPDAPEX venue at a day and time to be advised. She will be available to sign cards but will be restricted to one signature per customer and per set of cards.

Please support our endeavour. Hope to see you at SAPDAPEX.

Kind regards

Emil Minnaar