Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communications and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
Botanical illustration combines scientific knowledge and artistic technique. However, whereas illustrated botanical images record static visual qualities, such as form and color, written botanical narratives supply crucial sensory, ecological, historical, and cultural contexts that complement visual representation. Understanding the text-image interface—where images and words intersect—contributes to humanities-based analyses of botanical illustration and illustrators. More specifically, a process philosophy perspective reveals the extent to which botanical representations engage the temporality, cyclicality, and contextuality of the living plants being illustrated. This article takes up these themes through a comparative theoretical study of three female Western Australian botanical illustrators, Georgiana Leake (1812–1869), Emily Pelloe (1877–1941), and Philippa Nikulinsky (born 1942), whose lives together span the 183 year history of the Swan River Colony and the state of Western Australia. I apply a processist framework to examine the text-image interface of their works. All three illustrators use some form of textuality: marginalia, annotations, written accompaniments, introductory statements, and other narrative materials. In examining their written commentaries and traces, I identify the emergence of a process mode of botanical illustration that represents plants as ecological, historical, cultural, and temporal organisms.
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