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Collecting Natural History Art: Post-settler society's search for identity


Hansen, A, Collecting Natural History Art: Post-settler society's search for identity, Nature and the Long Nineteenth Century 2010, 6 February 2010, Edinburgh, Scotland (2010) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]


The collecting of natural history art related to the exploration of a country and other material from this era appears to be a strong and shared theme in many government institutions in settler societies – particularly those of the former British colonies of Australia, New Zealand and Canada. This paper examines this type of collection; the ‘Australiana’, ‘Tasmaniana’, ‘Canadiana’ collections that are such a feature of museums, art galleries and libraries of post-settler societies. I will discuss how natural history art is used as the interest in creating a history; as a society moves from identifying with the colonial power, to establishing its own identity and sense of self; as that awareness grows, so too does interest in the past, in creating a history that is one’s own. Tasmania (formerly Van Diemen’s Land) has rich and extensive collections of ‘Tasmaniana’ in its state institutions; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, State Library of Tasmania, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. With increasing interest in the environment, there is a growing interest in the fauna and flora illustrations associated with exploration and settlement, and museums, art galleries and libraries in post-settler societies view these works as significant, going to extraordinary lengths to secure the works. I will examine and discuss the history of two collections of natural history art in detail; the orchid illustrations of Tasmanian-born botanist and illustrator, William Archer (1820–1874), whose illustrations can be found at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (as well as JD Hooker’s Flora Tasmaniae and the Linnean Society of London), and the natural history illustrations of the convict artist William Buelow Gould (1801–1853), held by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery of Launceston (Gould’s works are also held in most major galleries and libraries of Australia).

Item Details

Item Type:Non Refereed Conference Paper
Research Division:Creative Arts and Writing
Research Group:Art history, theory and criticism
Research Field:Art history
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in creative arts and writing studies
UTAS Author:Hansen, A (Ms Anita Hansen)
ID Code:68031
Year Published:2010
Deposited By:Art (Hobart)
Deposited On:2011-03-09
Last Modified:2011-03-11

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