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THE PRIVATE LIFE OF INSECTS: WHEN ART MEETS SCIENCE
A retrospective exhibition of Insect Illustration by Andrew Atkins

Hemiptera:Heteroptera (juvenile) illustration by Andrew Atkins

Hemiptera:Heteroptera (juvenile)
illustration by Andrew Atkins

Saturday 5th April – Saturday 12th April
10am to 3pm daily
Arts and Ecology Centre
Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden, Tanawha

As most scientific illustration is ’exhibited’ in publication, the general public rarely get the chance to see a collective assortment of the artists’ work. This exhibition is designed to show everyone a variety of approaches and techniques used for such specialist publication – in this case insects. These works were mostly prepared for scientists and scientific publications (magazines and books) in Australia, USA and England between 1978 and 2010, with many on behalf of the British Museum (London) and the CSIRO (Canberra), but several also for my own research and scientific publications (especially for butterflies). I am a graduate of Fine Art RMIT. My last employment (18 years) was as a lecturer for students at the under-graduate and post-graduate levels in the tuition of  Illustration, Drawing, Design and Fine Art.
Andrew Atkins

This exhibition is a non-profit venture and artworks are not for sale due to their archival nature. They are grouped more or less according to the techniques used (eg pencil, pen and ink, scraperboard, coloured inks, watercolour, gouache and mixed media}. Some examples of the finished work , ‘put to press’ in magazines and books, are displayed. Meet the artist and learn the simple techniques for producing realistic artworks for publication in journals and books.

Hasora khoda, Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae illustration by Andrew Aitkins

Hasora khoda, Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae
illustration by Andrew Aitkins

Butterfly/Botanic Scientific Illustration workshop by Andrew Atkins
Arts and Ecology Centre | 10am-12pm | Friday 11th April 2014

  • with simple demonstrations and practical work (including scraperboard)
  • Registration and materials fee $20 per person: (for further information ring Sunshine Coast Council Ph. 07 5443 6336)
  • visit the Community Hub pages for bookings>>

Scientific Illustration is simply the creation of diagrammatic art-works to explain objects or processes in any scientific or medical endeavor. It is aimed to educate the reader or observer in a clear and simple way that might successfully communicate ideas other than by the written or spoken word. It is generally used in the publication of scientific documents or ‘papers’ or simply as a communication between researchers and/or students. Taxonomic illustration refers to specialist artwork produced to enhance publication descriptions and comparisons of new species of biota (living animals and plants).

Hemiptera:Heteroptera (juvenile) illustration by Andrew Aitkins

Hemiptera:Heteroptera (juvenile)
illustration by Andrew Aitkins

History of Scientific Illustration
The ‘father’ of scientific illustration is generally regarded as Leonardo de Vinci, the renaissance artist, not only famous for his paintings (eg ‘Mona Lisa’), but also for his intuitive medical dissection drawings of humans, animals and plants etc., however these subjects have been variably drawn, painted and sculptured for cultural, religious and identification purposes since the beginning of mankind. Indeed the aboriginal people, for at least 40,000 years have created diagnostic symbolic art representing the internal structures of Australian fauna and flora.

Diplazon Laetetorius (female) illustration by Andrew Aitkins

Diplazon Laetetorius (female)
illustration by Andrew Aitkins

Practice, Education and Employment
Computers artists can create scientific illustration, but hand-worked methods (traditional painting drawing etc) are still preferred as the artist, working closely with scientists, can more clearly and simply select features (often internal) that require accurate diagrammatic evaluation and enhancement. This is especially if the subject matter involves dead (preserved in fluid or dried) specimens. Much of this art involves working with microscopes using dissected material, not usually copying from photographs – rarely from video reference. It is a specialist art form not usually taught in Art Schools (The University of Newcastle, NSW. being the exception).

Scientific illustrators are employed by museums, herbariums, scientific (eg CSIRO) and medical institutions that require art for publication and promotional/exhibition. Artists working on a free-lance basis also create a large proportion of this work.

Andrew Atkins, F.R.E.S., 2014.

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