PETER Schouten AM is a title Mr Schouten can proudly and rightly claim as he was appointed to be a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
The Queen's Birthday Honours List recognises a diverse range of contributions and service across all fields, including professional endeavours, community service, Defence and emergency services personnel, and acts of bravery.
The Bobin wildlife artist received the appointment for significant service to the visual arts as a wildlife and scientific illustrator, and to the preservation and documentation of Australian natural history.
Mr Schouten is one of only 138 Australians to be appointed as an AM in the General Division of the Order this year.
Peter has always been fascinated by animals and his continual drawing of dinosaurs as a child was an indication of where his career would take him, as it progressed into his profession when he published his first book.
He has specialised in Australia’s natural history since 1976 and is responsible for the illustrations in a number of landmark natural history publications.
Peter is widely acclaimed worldwide for his paleo artwork creating representations of creatures that have never been photographed as they are either extinct or extremely rare.
To recreate the images of extinct, never before photographed animals much detailed research of scientific papers and reconstruction from fossil sites must be undertaken. In addition, Peter says, you’ve got to have an intimate knowledge of animals.
His artworks grace the walls of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, the Natural History Museum in New York, the Naturalis Museum in the Netherlands and David Attenborough’s own private collection.
Peter is anticipating publication of his new book The Antipodean Ark in 2016, which is an updated version of one of his previous works titled Prehistoric Animals of Australia, and which Peter says is going to be the most authoritative book on the prehistory of Australia.
Following hot on the heels of that will be another with a working title of Megafauna.
Peter has been living and working in Bobin for the past 13 years, and has been artist in residence at the Manning Regional Art Gallery for the past three years.
While he hasn’t been able to be as present at the gallery as he would like in recent times he does still conduct workshops at the gallery on Saturday mornings, with the current workshop on basics of wildlife illustration nearing completion.
“I love showing people and sharing my knowledge, whether it’s the knowledge of paleo, prehistory or modern animals in the Manning Valley or my knowledge of art,” Peter says.
“I just have a great time when I discover this stuff but I have an even greater time when I can share with people.”
Peter does not know for certain who nominated him for this distinguished honour and said he was “absolutely flabbergasted” when he received the letter.
Peter says he “won’t have a medal to flash around” until later this year when he attends his investiture and will be awarded with his medal at Government House.
But the biggest thrill, he says, was being able to tell his mother, who has just moved into a nursing home.
“I told her yesterday, and her eyes lit up. I knew it would mean a lot to her,” he said with emotion evident in his voice.
Anyone can nominate any Australian for an award in the Order of Australia. If you know someone worthy, nominate them now at www.gg.gov.au.