This gorgeous selection of detailed drawings will be shown at the State Library of New South Wales’ TAL & Dai-ichi Life Derby Collection. The drawings come from the private collection of Australian art collector Kerry Stokes, among other collectors. Some of these treasures haven’t ever been seen before by the public!
Anybody with an interest in natural history, art or the history of Australia should head to the State Library of NSW for this exhibition. It’s a refreshing change from other colonial stories. The staple narrative of the early days of Australia’s colonisation recounts the punitive conditions, hunger and isolation of convicts. However along with this grim side of history, these hand-drawn treasures show early European settlers’ curiosity and tenderness for strange and striking looking Australian fauna.
Featuring works by convicts-turned watercolourists John Doody and Thomas Watling. You can also peruse these sublime pictures at your leisure in the book by Louise Anemaat Natural Curiosity: Unseen Art of the First Fleet.
Compared to the Old World, Australia presented the early settlers with a cacophany of birdsong and flurry of colours with black swans that glided into billabongs; parrots and lorikeets that cavorted in the trees; and shy and elusive marsupials hiding behind the brush.