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Eye for Nature

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An Eye for Nature

The Life and Art of William T Cooper

Penny Olsen  

Colour illustrations, Colour photographs
288 pages
Publisher: National Library of Australia

    Hardback - 2014
ISBN: 9780642278463 - AU $ 49.99



"The best ornithological illustrator alive" — David Attenborough

In the work of artist William T.Cooper, platypuses swim in green underwater worlds, waves throw up blankets of spray, embers glow in the aftermath of a bushfire, a Thylacine emerges from the shadows, sniffing the air. But it is his paintings of birds which set Cooper apart—his raucous cockatoos, colourful parrots, animated turacos and flamboyantly displaying birds of paradise. Often placed in meticulously studied landscapes, these intricate bird portraits reveal Cooper's close observation not only of his subjects' appearance, but their habits, poses and behaviour.

In this biography, Penny Olsen traces the path of Cooper's life and art—from his childhood spent in the bush, to his teenage years as an apprentice taxidermist at Carey Bay Zoo and, later, to his work as a window dresser and landscape artist. She documents his fruitful partnership with wife and collaborator Wendy Cooper and his extensive travels in Australia and abroad in pursuit of his subjects.


  • Extracts from Cooper’s extensive field notebooks give an insight into his interests and processes
  • Illustrated with photographs, paintings and sketches, and includes a portfolio of bird and landscape paintings that have never before been published

Related Titles
The East Asian–Australasian Flyway: Population Trends, Threats and the Future   An Atlas of the Birds of NSW & the ACT     Australian Wildlife After Dark    Double Helix Issue 04    Indicators and Surrogates of Biodiversity and Environmental Change    All About Garden Wildlife Of Australia    Birds of the Darwin Region  


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