Sunday, January 10, 2010

Casuarina Moods

These graceful beauties with their distinctive foliage are probably Casuarina equisetifolia or Beach She-Oak, a coastal species widely distributed through Australasia, southeast Asia, and islands of the western Pacific. The smell of the crushed needles and the sound of the wind through those trees brings back memories of growing up in coastal south east Queensland. I remember we used them as a substitute for Christmas trees. Now I am trying capture some of this essence as a screenprint. Not easy.

The name has an interesting derivation -  apparently derived from Malay Kasuari  referring to the similarity between the drooping foliage and the feathers of the cassowary. It was collected by Joseph Banks during Captain James Cook's first voyage across the Pacific in the Endeavour, 1768-1771and sketched by natural history artist Sydney Parkinson. I have just discovered this website which has everything you ever wanted to know about Sydney Parkinson, including links to the Museum of Natural History in London which holds the Endeavour botanical illustrations collection. This website is amazing and you can even search the database of the collection online and see Parkinson's original water colour  from the Society Is. (1769), and his others as well.

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