Drawn into arts and academia, by Rayannon Innes / by Newcastle Discovered

Drawn into arts and academia

Natural History Illustration - the University of Newcastle is prided on being one of the few institutions that offer a degree within the field. So greatly distinguished is the degree that the university created a world-first online course dedicated to the practical and theoretical applications in the area of study late last year. The compressed course, which focuses on introducing students to the foundations of scientific inquiry and presentation through observational illustration techniques, continues to be taught worldwide through the online platform.

Tallulah (by Edwina Richards Photography)

Tallulah (by Edwina Richards Photography)

Someone who is well aware of the vast potential of studies in natural history illustration is PhD graduate and online course moderator, Dr Tallulah Cunningham. Having chosen to leave her hometown in central Australia upon learning about the specialised degree; one doctorate and working space later, Tallulah continues to dedicate her time to the many projects requested of one from within her field.

From documenting endemic eucalypts of the Hunter region to painting a mural of native birds spanning two-stories of the John Hunter Hospital, Tallulah commits her profession wherever she or others see fit;

“I’m a dabbler” Talulah admits modestly,

“I’m a bit of a prism… light goes in and a lot of rainbows come out”.

Most recently, her versatile quality and creative competence took shape in three-dimensional terms through the construction of a metre-long Eden Gardens commissioned sculpture. The native frog, formed from digitally cut wooden vectors, occupies the Macquarie Park Botanic Gardens along with a series of fifty other nature-inspired sculptures as part of the Eden Unearthed sculpture festival.

Currently, outside of the natural world and true to her ‘dabbling’ ways, Tallulah is curating a Newcastle Theatre Company aligned exhibition. The foyer gallery space will display works from local – a number of which comprise of former illustration collaborative Octopus Ink -  and state-wide artists’ interpretations of key characters from the theatre’s performance of Shakespearean comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost. Tallulah’s work will also join the exhibition which will observe her illustration of human figures rather than her standard animal and nature-based subjects.

It’s this love for both medieval and natural history that will be most clearly combined in a series of upcoming illustration workshops Tallulah will be leading at the Newcastle Region Library specialising in illuminated capital letter typography and bird illustration. 

For dates and further details into the array projects Tallulah is working on you can follow her here (https://www.patreon.com/Papertigress).

If you’re interested in pursuing a degree in Natural History Illustration or wish to undertake the specialised online course you can visit the University of Newcastle website for further course details and application requirements.