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Monday, August 22, 2011

Our Heritage of Bird and Nature Writers and Illustrators and Photographers

An excited participant in the Birds of Prey spectacular show at the Taronga Park Zoo Sydney,Copyright Geoff Thompson
The number of people in our recent Australian past who contributed much to our knowledge of God's creation in this country are many. Gradually some of them fade from view, even the more well known ones.

There are people like Neville Cayley,John Gould and there ilk and even more recent ones like Harry Butler,Vincent Serventy, The Leyland Brothers, people and many others who have produced film and television documentaries as well as books.
H. J. Frith was excellent.
David Parer and Elizabeth Parer-Cook has a brilliant dvd documentary on Australian Parrots called "Australia land of Parrots." ABC shops.

Of course most of the first writers and illustrators of wildlife and bird books were artists not photographers and there is a current excellent book "Feather and Brush" three centuries of Australian Bird Art by Penny Olsen. There are still many wonderful bird artists today and it is my intention to move into this area myself using all my Bird photos as a guide for subject matter.
Jeremy Boot is a great bird artist resident in South Australia.
William T Cooper was an amazing Australian Bird Artist and Penny Olsen has edited a beautiful book about his life and work.

Roger Murcott is a local South Australian based bird artist in his "Birds of a Feather" studio at Kapunda.

There are many current wonderful photographers and writers like Steve Parish,Pete Dobre and Ken Duncan.Before them Jocelyn Burt,Michael Morecombe. Nicholas Birks is another current or recent wonderful wildlife photographer specialsing in Birds of Prey.

I find much inspiration from all of these people.

This is by way of introduction of discovering two writer/photographers this week that I hadn't heard of before.Surprisingly I realised that one of them Charles Barrett, was someone my late father in law Dudley Foweraker had corresponded with when he was a young boy.
His knowledge of Birds and Butterflies at the time was probably 2nd to none. It is interesting which birds were considered rare at the time or endangered when reading his notes on  many of the Australian Birds.

My wife and I were in an antiques and bric a brac shop on the weekend and I found a copy of a Sun Nature book No. 3 "Australian Birds and Butterflies" by Charles Barrett who also wrote the introduction to the other wonderful book we found "Australian Nature Stories" by Ronald K. Munro.1944. This latter book was the only one the author produced as he died from what I can determine, as a young serviceman in the 2nd World War.
From the introduction by Charles Barrett some extracts.

"as a boy, Ron Munro spent most of his time in the Gippsland Bush.It was there that he first conceived the idea of writing nature stories. Later he took up photography with the object of illustrating his stories.--For years until he enlisted in the second AIF he was a press photographer on the staff of the Melbourne "Herald" . ---It has been the author's aim to tell bushland stories in such a manner that they will interest both children and grown up folk. --- Ron Munro says that he will be well repaid should his book foster in young Australians a love of wild nature :that assuredly it will do."

 The book is delightful and contains the following list of short stories.

The Kid from Next door.
Freda and Freddie
"frill" the Frogmouth Baby
The Cuckoo in the Nest
Children of the Storm
The Boo Book family
Butcher Bird babies
The lord and Lady of the Swamp
Minnie Miner's Triplets
The Cosy Hollow in the Dead Tree
Teddy Bear and his Pals
Wings over the Lignum
In the Treetops with the Nuthatch Family
Penguins of Phillip Island
Where the Seagulls Nest
Maxi Mudlarks Great Adventure.

I believe this writer and Charles Barrett were much responsible for inspiring my Father in Law to write a similar short story in 1946 called "Puddin'" and then some others in recent years.

see link to Charles Barrett info below
Charles Barrett with Camera

I am intending to put at least one  of Dudley's short stories on the internet .
See his Eulogy on this blog.

So to all photographers , writers and artists involved in presenting the Natural world keep up the good work. I particular admire the work of Arthur Morris who is right up there as bird photographer. Arguably the World's best.
Special congratulations to Steve Parish who is continuing in the spirit of his predecessors.

A link to Pete Dobre's website

Also a wonderful wild life photographer who has spent a lot of time in Australia is Thomas Marent and his signature book. "Rainforest"  .Check out his website.

Addendum: 20/10/13 I have now found and purchased a book called.
"Land  of Wonder" compiled by the late Alec Chisholm.
 A wonderful book you should seek out. "an illustrated anthology of the best Australian nature writing"
It was publishes by Angus and Robertson.
My edition was published in 1979.

Geoff Thompson

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