Back in 1860 Hermann Beckler collected plant specimens during the Burke and Wills Expedition. (For posts about that check here and here.) Those specimens ended up in the Herbarium in Victoria. Now zoom forward 150 years to 2010, the 150th Anniversary of the Expedition.
There were a number of events and celebrations that year to mark the event. Mali Moir, respected and very talented botanic artist devised a botanic art project. After discussing her idea with some others the Beckler Botanical Bounty was begun. The idea was to go to Menindee, collect and press specimens of the same species that Beckler had collected. These specimens would sit alongside Beckler’s in the Herbarium. However, Mali’s truly fabulous inspiration was that each specimen would be painted. There is a list of 120 taxa collected in 1860 within 20km of Menindee. This list was the basis of our work.
So in 2010 the first group went to Menindee and began the process. I went in 2011 and 2012, and would love to be there again in 2013!
The broad process is that we identify the plant, collect it (with the correct permits, of course), press it and then start the painting. But things are not always that easy! Correctly identifying a plant can involve time, patience and some very thick reference books! Then there is a very good chance that it is not on Beckler’s list, so it is back outside again!
After the specimen is collected and pressed, the drawing and painting begins. If you are interested in finding out how individual artists go about their work you can follow the link to our Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Blog.