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Celia Elizabeth Rosser is a renowned Australian botanical artist, best known for having illustrated The Banksias, a three-volume series of monographs containing watercolour paintings of every Banksia species.
In 1974 she was appointed University Botanical Artist, and began the project of painting every Banksia species. The project took over 25 years to complete, and resulted in the publication of a three volume monograph entitled The Banksias, with accompanying text by Alex George. Publication of the final volume in 2000 represented the first time that such a large genus has been entirely painted.
In 1977 she was awarded the Linnaean Society of London's Jill Smythies Award for botanical illustration, and in 1995 was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia. Monash University awarded her an honorary Master of Science degree in 1981, and an honorary PhD in 1999.
Born Celia Elizabeth Prince in 1930, she began painting Australian wildflowers early in her artistic career. She first began painting Banksias after seeing a Banksia serrata near her home in Orbost, Victoria. Her first exhibition was at Leveson Gallery in Melbourne in 1965, and included three watercolours of Banksia species. Two years later she published Wildflowers of Victoria.
In 1970, Celia was appointed Science Faculty Artist at Monash University.
She illustrated Peter Bridgewater's The Saltmarsh Plants of Southern Australia and The Mosses of Southern Australia by George Scott and Ilma Stone.
Banksia Lady: Celia Rosser, Botanical Artist
by Carolyn Landon
This is the story of Celia Rosser, internationally acclaimed botanical illustrator, who dedicated her life to painting the entire genus of Banksia, the only artist to have done so. Her dedication to the task put her at the centre of the Monash Banksia Project for twenty-five years, and culminated in the production of an extraordinary three-volume florilegium that became one of the great books published in the twentieth century.
Banksia Lady reveals the emergence of an artist who grew up in difficult circumstances during the Great Depression and who pursued her art as a way of protecting herself from the harsher side of life. The story follows Celia’s struggle to pursue her artistic passion while fulfilling the expectations that women of the 1950s would subordinate themselves as wives and mothers. As her children became more independent, she recognised opportunities and, eventually, found a place at Monash University to fully express herself through her art.
In telling this story of Celia Rosser’s unparalleled talent and extraordinary achievement, this book explores the history of botanical illustration, botany, academia, gardens and their herbarium, and Australia’s place in changing the shape of the world.
Banksia Lady: Celia Rosser, Botanical Artist is available from the Gallery or Monash University and Amazon
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Banksia Lady: Celia Rosser
celia rosser gallery