New home for artwork at Royal Botanic Gardens

First Fleet Cornucopia by Peter Schouten AM. Mediums used were watercolour and gouache on Arches paper.
First Fleet Cornucopia by Peter Schouten AM. Mediums used were watercolour and gouache on Arches paper.

AN artwork by Bobin artist Peter Schouten AM is now owned by the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney after being selected for an acquisition prize.

The artwork was part of Australia's leading contemporary botanical art exhibition, Botanica which returned to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney this month as the garden celebrates its bicentenary.

As the only work selected to be purchased by the garden, Peter is understandably delighted by the result.

It all started with a simple brief to illustrate a plant from history.

"Each artist was given a list of plants the First Fleet brought with them to Farm Cove," Peter said.

With 87 different varieties to choose from, picking a suitable subject to illustrate should have been a simple task.

But it wasn't.

"It was hard to pick just one," admitted Peter.

"So I chose to illustrate every single one of them!"

Peter's illustration 'First Fleet Cornucopia' was a labour of love that required extensive research to complete.

"I can never do anything that is too easy," he laughs.

Many of the plants were available to be illustrated from life while others were more challenging because they simply aren't available to look at.

Peter delved into 18th century history, a journey that ultimately saw him accessing seed catalogues of the era online.

"I love the research; it is incredible what you can find out," he said.

Peter is no stranger to illustrating something from history that is no longer available to see.

He has specialised in Australia's natural history since 1976 and 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.

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. And now our own Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.

"I was blown away," admits Peter on hearing his work called out on the opening night of the exhibition.

"I'm really, really glad that happened."

Peter has been told the garden has plans to create products such as postcards and children's colouring pages from his work in the future.

First Fleet Cornucopia can be seen in Sydney as part of Botanica at Farm Cove, Lion Gate Lodge until May 1 from 10am - 4pm.

Entry to the exhibition is free.

This story New home for artwork at Royal Botanic Gardens first appeared on Wingham Chronicle.