australian institute of landscape architects  AILA ®

Vale Ralph Neale OAM

It is with great sympathy that I share the sad news that Ralph Neale OAM passed away on 27 June 2014. Ralph was the founding publisher of Landscape Australia, and was aged 92 years.

In 1981, Ralph was made an Honorary Fellow of AILA for his incredible contribution to establishing Landscape Australia from 1972 to 2002. The journal provided a forum for the Institute to present itself to other professional organisations.

Ralph’s funeral is being held on Friday 4 July at 2.00pm. at the Albert Park Yacht Club, Albert Park Lake, Melbourne. Our thoughts and support are with Ralph’s wife, Vivienne, family and close friends during this difficult time.

Mark Frisby
National President
Australian Institute of Landscape Architects


AILA National President Noel Corkery with Ralph Neale OAM FAILA (Hon). Image: AILA archives.

'Ralph was a true hero for landscape architects in their early years in Australia. He saw what many of the profession at that stage did not -- that discourse and publishing were fundamental to 'professing'. He willingly published early (and probably marginally worthy) articles of mine including a sequence of three following completion of my doctorate. Such an open approach to 'the scholarly' was unheard of amongst professional journals at the time. Often prickly to deal with but always truly committed we owe Ralph a lot. Indeed, we should consider a writing or publishing prize in his honour. The profession needs more like him.'

Dr Catherin Bull AM
Queensland University of Technology

‘Landscape architecture was advanced in 1979 when the first issue of a national professional journal, Landscape Australia, was published. Encouraged by the staff of the Centre for Environmental Studies at the University of Melbourne, Ralph Neale was the journal’s instigator and inaugural editor and with the help of a small but dedicated team which included his wife, Vivienne, he continued to produce the journal for the next 22 years as the only real public forum for the profession in Australia. Ralph Neale was also a historian (including 19th century maritime history), photographer, painter, naturalist, conservationist and although his early career was in the industrial sphere, his commitment to conservation and the environment was wholehearted. He played a significant role in elevating the importance of landscape improvement in urban, rural and natural environments. Landscape Australia helped to represent a particular charter for the profession, a charter that was overwhelmingly one of stewardship of the land. He established international readership and in the 1980s and 1990s promoted and supported a particular culture of landscape architecture, at least within Melbourne, through conferences and events and importantly, through making connections among like-minded people. In 1994 he was awarded Medal of the Order of Australia for services to conservation of the environment and to landscape architecture. Ralph was actively researching and writing to the very end and has made lasting contributions to the founding of the profession in Australia.’

Dr Andrew Saniga
Lecturer in Landscape Architecture
Faculty of Arch., Bldg. & Planning
University of Melbourne

‘It is with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of Ralph Neale, founder of Landscape Australia magazine in 1979. Since this time, the AILA’s quarterly magazine has been the primary means of communication to members, allied professions and the public, and providing readers with a formative insight into our profession.

Together with his wife Vivienne, Ralph worked consistently and with the greatest integrity to produce a premium publication for landscape architecture in Australia from their home in Mont Albert.’

Jenny Rayment
Grape Vine Design

‘Ralph Neale brought recognition of gardens and landscape to a wide public.

His Landscape Australia magazine, a quarterly publication now known as Landscape Architecture Australia, set a new and exciting direction for practitioners and for readers. It took a broad view, dispensing information and images on aspects of landscape that ranged from design (the big picture and the detail) to construction, raw materials (like water and soil), and to plants, furniture and people (users, designers and builders).

From the start he wanted to promote working with the environment, noting in the magazine’s first issue: ‘Let us hope this journal will lead to an acceleration of the pace at which the (landscape architecture) profession is developing in Australia, and what is more important, an improvement in the landscape, both urban and rural, to the greater benefit of everyone….’ Andrew Saniga, author of Making Landscape Architecture in Australia, refers to Neale’s attitude as ‘a particular charter for the profession … overwhelmingly one of stewardship of the land’.

Neale launched Landscape Australia in 1979, serving as editor/publisher (and contributor of words and images) until 1997, then as publisher for a further six years. He worked quietly yet with immense energy. In 1994 he diverted some of this energy into the Landscape Australia Garden Design Conference, which he ran biennially until the turn of the century. The initial conference, attended by more than 700 people, brought in speakers from America, England and Italy as well as Australia. From the start Neale had taken what he called ‘a world view’.

Unassuming yet deeply committed, he rarely pushed himself forward, but when talking with him, you learned to listen. He had a quirky sense of humour; he was diligent, smart, and trustworthy. He did what he believed in, whether sailing, retailing (shoes), historic research and writing, working with volunteer groups (such as Friends of the Elms, for whom he produced a regular newsletter until just before his death), and – of course – promoting awareness of the Australian landscape. We are all the richer for it.’

Anne Latreille

‘Ralph contributed generously to the Institute by working tirelessly on the publication of Landscape Australia magazine – providing an important voice for the Institute and help in promoting the landscape profession to the general public. The garden design conferences he organised also brought designers from around the world to the Australian garden stage, providing valuable inspiration to professionals and garden lovers alike.

Ralph was a gentle man with a passionate concern for a wide range of environmental issues, and will be sadly missed.’

Elizabeth Jacka

‘I will remember Ralph as the humble, unassuming gentleman of landscape architecture.

He learned about our profession on the job as founding editor of Landscape Australia working from his home and office in Mont Albert for so many years. It was always a delight to visit. His editorials were always thoughtful and sincere about our profession body and all aspects of the environment and the politics of planning in our cities. He believed in our profession’s potential to shape Australia for the better and did so much for the growth of our profession through the formative years of AILA.

We have lost a great contributor and I hope his memory will live on through his writing, photography and paintings in the many editions of Landscape Australia that he leaves behind.’

Bruce Echberg

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