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3 September, 2021

Exhibition: Portrait Painter to the Birds

CAIRNS Art Gallery presents an exhibition for internationally renowned Australian artist William T Cooper.

By Peter McCullagh

Recognised as Australia’s most proficient and talent botanical and bird artist.

Cooper’s illustrations have been widely published and his works are held in collections in Australia and across the world, including an extensive holding in the National Library of Australia and the State Library of New South Wales.

In 1993, Sir David Attenborough made a film about artist William T Cooper called, “Portrait Painter to the Birds” and at the time called Bill “Australia’s greatest living scientific painter of birds.”

Cairns Art Gallery has secured an exhibition of more than one hundred works that not only explore Cooper’s deep understanding and love of bird life, but also a large body of works that beautifully describe, in accurate detail, the flora that is their natural habitat.

While the compositions are clearly aesthetically exquisite, it is the botanical and anatomical accuracy of both the plants and the bird life that each painting describes that has positioned Cooper as a contemporary botanical artist without equal.

The exhibition coincides with the launch of a new book about William Cooper and his art. Written by his wife Wendy, and published by the National Library of Australia, The botanical art of William T Cooper took more than a year to write, with much of the time spent compiling and selecting works for illustration.

The exhibition is currently open to the public through to mid- February 2022.

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