The Sydney Morning Herald ('The Diary', 5 April 2010) today said 'Expect to see not a single stick figure among the highly competent renderings in the 2010 Margaret Flockton Award exhibitions opening this week - the odd stick, however, is a distinct possibility'. Quite true, and corny enough to have come from my blog!
As the article goes on to say, this scientific illustration prize attracts some of the best artists around the world. On Thursday night we'll announce the winner of the $5000 prize (and the second place $2000 prize).
All finalists will be exhibited in the Red Box Gallery from Friday 9 April to Friday 9 July. This gallery is inside the building - the National Herbarium of New South Wales - that houses the State's collection of over 1.2 million preserved plants, and a few dozen scientists and other Botanic Gardens' staff.
Because it's a working building there are restricted opening hours: 10 am - 4 pm weekdays. However for the 2010 Margaret Flockton Award we will have special weekend viewings on 17-18 April and 24-25 April.
Not only do will you see exquisite black and white drawings normally hidden within the pages of scientific journals (even when on-line, it's not easy to find or appreciate the illustrations amid the often turgid and terse text of taxonomists - of which I'm one) but you get to see inside the Herbarium, another treasure hidden from most visitors to the Royal Botanic Gardens.
As we say in our little on-line blurb, the Margaret Flockton Award is where 'the precision of science meets the beauty of art in black and white scientific illustrations that show the human mind and hand have not been superceded by technology.'
It's true that ink drawings are still one of the best ways to show the diagnostic features of a plant for accurate documentation and identification. Photographs are a wonderful addition but the scientific drawings still rules.
Image: From the Botanic Gardens Trust photographic collection, this is Margaret Flockton, the Botanic Garden's first and longest-serving botanical illustrator.