Sunday 24 February 2013

Beckler's Botanical Bounty 2010

The last couple of posts have been about the Burke and Wills Expedition and Hermann Beckler, the surgeon and naturalist of the expedition. When this blog was begun Mali Moir wrote about the Beckler's Botanical Project in October 2010. I am reposting some of that. 
Her passion comes shining through!

Our aim was to collect the same species of plants that Beckler collected in the same location. As botanical artists we proceeded to paint/illustrate some of the species we found.
As the fields were in spectacular bloom it was a challenge for us to choose which one we wanted to paint, and which ones were the same as Beckler's list.

We stopped at one site and noticed large patches of blue haze. This turned out to be hundreds of Wahlenbergia, the native bluebell! We were hooked and there we stayed for 3 hours discovering more and more -- the more we looked the more we found. Many daisies, salt bushes and blue bushes in full splendid colour.

Not the hazy blue Wahlenbergia, but it is the amazing habitat round Menindee

We spent 5 days in Menindee, 2 days searching, collecting and identifying, 3 days painting and illustrating.

We found 15 plants we are now painting. Out of a list of 120 we plan to return next October to continue the project.

Collecting plants for scientific research is of course very important. Illustration is a valuable tool in this research in particular as we painted these plants while they were fresh with colour.
(photo: copyright Anne Lawson)

Botanical art is very detailed and very accurate for the purpose of scientific identification. It also invokes awareness and educates the general public to the importance of science and research through its sheer beauty.

"Artists make science visible" I have lived by this philosophy for nearly 20 years now. Without artists and art the world would be a much darker and duller place.

It is our vision to fill in some of the gaps by illustrating the plants on Beckler's list. The importance of this project is immense. 

We aim to put our work on exhibition sometime in the future.

.......... Mali

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