Presentation by Ms Anita Hansen, PhD student, UTAS
Royal Society Room
Tuesday, 5th May 2009 Commencing 8.00pm until 10.00pm
This is lecture based on her Masters thesis on the orchid illustrations by William Archer 1820-1874
About the Speaker
Anita Hansen is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania. She is working on a joint project with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, examining the nineteenth century natural history art collections held by major institutions in Tasmania. She recently (2007) completed her Masters, again a joint project with TMAG on the orchid illustrations of Tasmanian born artist William Archer (1820-1874). In 1993, she completed a Graduate Diploma in Art (Plant and Wildlife Illustration) at the University of Newcastle while working as a scientific illustrator and graphic designer with NSW Agriculture. Anita moved to Tasmania in 2003, where she worked as a freelance designer and illustrator before obtaining a scholarship to work on her PhD.
Brief Abstract of the Talk
William Archer was a member of the Royal Society from 1847. He became Secretary of the Society in 1860. Although William Archer is known as an architect (he designed Mona Vale and Hutchins School) and as a politician (he was a member of the first freely elected Parliament, standing on an Anti-transportation platform), it is not widely known that Archer is also recognised as the first Australian-born botanical illustrator and botanist. He corresponded with Joseph Dalton Hooker, sending botanical specimens to him at Kew Gardens. In 1857, Archer travelled to England to work with JD Hooker on Flora Tasmaniae (1843-1860), arguably historically the most significant publication on Australian botany. Archer had been instrumental in obtaining a Tasmanian government grant of £350 toward the printing of this book. Upon hearing of this Darwin wrote to Hooker: “What capital news from Tasmania; it really is a very credible fact to the colony” … (In this letter he then stated that his ‘castle in the air’ was to emigrate to Tasmania, and he already regarded the colony as his ‘headquarters’) It is in the introduction to Flora Tasmaniae that Hooker first writes of his belief in Darwin’s theory of the mutability of species: “In the Introductory Essay to the New Zealand Flora, I advanced certain general propositions as to the origin of species, which I refrained from endorsing as articles of my own creed: amongst others was the still prevalent doctrine that these are … created as such, and are immutable. In the present Essay I shall advance the opposite hypothesis, that species are derivative and mutable … original reasonings and theories of Mr Darwin and Mr Wallace.”