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February 27, 2021

Australian Museum marks International Women’s Day with scholarship

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Scott sisters illustration.

To mark International Women’s Day, the exquisite work of Australia’s most prominent 19th-century illustrators, Helena and Harriet Scott was honoured by the Australian Museum (AM) again offering a national scholarship for students studying scientific illustration.

 The AM scholarship of $5000 cash aims to highlight the continued importance of the time-honoured practice of scientific illustration and will support formal studies of natural history and science illustrators.

Australian Museum Director and CEO, Kim McKay AO said the story of Helena and Harriet Scott is a rich, inspiring and significant narrative in the history of women in our nation.

‘The sisters were incredibly talented and determined to make a difference. However, the beauty and scientific detail of their work came at considerable personal sacrifice.

Unable to gain a formal education at Sydney University

‘As the first paid women artists in the colony working for the Australian Museum, Harriet and Helena Scott entered into the masculine worlds of science and art, yet, they were unable to gain a formal education as at the time Sydney University would only accept men.’

Ms McKay says that on International Women’s Day, it is timely to reflect on their lives. ‘We also celebrate the courage and determination of the sisters who transformed nature into art in their extraordinary paintings with little recognition at the time.’

Open to all genders, the scholarship was first awarded in 2017. Co-winner, Sami Bayly from University of Newcastle, said the Scientific Illustration Scholarship changed her life and opened pathways for her career that she never thought possible.

‘After meeting with the team at the AM, I felt inspired by such successful, strong women and I felt confident that my skills in scientific illustration would help me achieve my goals,’ Bayly said.

‘Apart from the funding, I was given the chance to volunteer with Vanessa Finney in the Archives department which taught me so much about our valuable history and that there is indeed a need for scientific illustration within our community,’ Bayly added.

 The AM invites students currently enrolled in Scientific Illustration courses (or equivalent) within Australia to apply for the AM Scientific Illustration 2020 Scholarship. Entries for the AM’s Scientific Illustration Scholarship are now open and will close on Thursday, 30 April 2020 at 5pm sharp.


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