With their collecting boxes, notebooks and paintbrushes, sisters Harriet and Helena Scott entered the masculine world of colonial science and became two of 19th-century Australia’s most prominent natural history illustrators.
There, surrounded by unspoilt native vegetation and under the inspiring tutelage of their artistic father, their shared fascination with the natural world grew. For almost 20 years, the sisters lived and worked on the island, faithfully recording its flora and fauna, especially the butterflies and moths.
In preparing their historical snapshot of the island’s vegetation, the Kooragang group returned to the Scotts’ unusually detailed nineteenth-century recordings, held in the Australian Museum Archives. The collection includes a catalogue handwritten in 1862 entitled the Indigenous Botany of Ash Island, well-preserved botanical specimens, and spectacular depictions and scientific descriptions of the island’s moths and butterflies – the great strength of the two artists and their father.
An exhibition produced by the Australian Museum,
Rose Docker, Archivist, Australian Museum
Jennifer Cork, Online Manager, Australian Museum