Where Science Meets Art

BIExquisitely detailed illustrations of some of the Tasmanian Herbarium's important Antarctic botanical specimens are now on show at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG).

The exhibition Where Science Meets Art features botanical illustrations created by the Herbarium's Professor Rod Seppelt, a botanist, artist and Antarctic expeditioner.

Botanical illustration has been used to identify plants since the times of the ancient herbals, and to this day, botanical illustrations accompany and enhance written descriptions and help us to recognise plants and communicate effectively about them.

Professor Seppelt of is one of Australia's most accomplished botanical illustrators, and Where Science Meets Art presents several of his illustrations of bryophytes (mosses and liverworts).

The Tasmanian Herbarium holds an important collection of over 35,000 botanical specimens collected from Antarctica and the subantarctic islands.

Many were collected by Professor Seppelt himself, who has participated in extensive expeditions and research in these areas.

He has painstakingly transformed these miniature life forms into the extremely detailed and magnified ink drawings on show in Where Science Meets Art.

Botanical illustration aims to record accurately all the features that are necessary for plant identification, including the plant's overall appearance and its size and structure.

Whilst botanical illustrations may be aesthetically pleasing artworks, it is their scientific purpose and extremely high degree of accuracy that sets them apart from botanical art where form – but not necessarily all details – are depicted.

Professor Seppelt will be giving a free talk about his work, and the drawings featured in the exhibition, on Thursday, 28 January at 11:00 am. The Herbarium's Lyn Cave will also give a talk about the mosses depicted in the exhibition on Thursday, 25 February at 11:00 am.

Where Science Meets Art: The Botanical Illustrations of Rod Seppelt is on show in TMAG's Salon Gallery from 22 January – 1 May 2016.

Image: Rod Seppelt, Hypopterygium didictyon, ink on polyester drafting film, collection of the artist.