Real World Gardener Interviews Catherine Wardrop Scientific Illustrator

July 25th, 2020

What is Scientific Illustration? 

Host of Real World Gardener radio show Marianne, speaks with Sydney Botanic Gardens Scientific Illustrator, Catherine Wardrop

Catherine Wardrop
  1.  Scientific illustration is one of many aspects of botanical research to aid plant identification and conservation at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.  How does it help?
  2. Why do botanists still use drawings instead of photographs?”
  3. Simply put, scientific illustrators create images of plants by referencing recent and historic herbarium collections. Catherine says "In my role, I use my artistic skill to translate the taxonomy, interpret microscopic botanical details, omit the unnecessary, document the essential and (hopefully) describe a species so well that it never has to be drawn again."
  4. What do you need to know about a species before you start drawing it?
  •        Any knowledge of plants helps.Catherine had studied 5 years at arts school completing        an undergrad and post grad studies in visual art. Post grad was in plant and wildlife        illustration.
  1. Is there a method when approaching botanical drawing?
Prostanthera lasianthos
  •     For a full plate which includes the habit of the plant, Catherine likes to do the microscope drawings first. It also involves a bit re-constructing. Scientific illustrator will include all parts of the life cycle of the plant.
  1. Which plant species have proved challenging to draw?
  •     When you start drawing a new species that has no previous illustrations or specimens. 
  1. How long have you been doing scientific illustration?
  2. Since 1998 Catherine has illustrated native, exotic and invasive weed species at RBG Sydney and the most recent examples of her work are to be seen accompanying botanical descriptions in online publications of Telopea and PlantNET.
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