A botanical artist documents the species on 8-meter scrolls to raise environmental awareness

A botanical artist committed to documenting plant species on 8-meter rolls of paper has raised tears abroad as she works to raise environmental awareness.

Sharon Field, who has been creating art depicting Australia’s flora for over a decade, attracts species from across New South Wales and the world, including some that are endangered, threatened or at risk from climate change.

She says her job is to do one drawing a day until the year 2030 on an 8-meter roll because it’s “the longest piece of paper I can get”.

“It could be a native Australian plant that might be under threat, it could be an introduced species, it could be a weed,” Field said.

“I also included insects, caterpillars, and bird wings, because I’m trying to show the biodiversity of the environment we live in.”

A piece of scroll paper with botanical drawings, a pen, a pair of glasses, and a light sit on top of it.
The scrolls are made of paper and will all be completed in 2030.(Supplied: Sharon Field)

Its journey began after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2022, which showed that the world must cut emissions by 43 percent by 2030 to avoid severe environmental consequences.

Australia’s 2022 State of the Environment report documented that the country’s environment was “poor” and “degraded”, with more species extinctions on the way.

Field, who lives south of Canberra and plans to paint eight manuscripts, said she has seen the effects of climate change, drought and bushfires.

“People don’t want to hear the warnings, they don’t want to hear the statistics, they can’t understand the statistics, but they can understand the visual,” she said.

A drawing containing three hazelnuts next to a number of drawings of plant species.
Ms Field painted a few hazelnuts while on site in the Riverina, New South Wales.(Supplied: Sharon Field)

Tears in the Big Apple

Field takes a roll wrapped inside her backpack everywhere she goes, including the American Society of Botanical Artists convention in New York City.

“People were in tears and I think that really conveyed to them that this is a very serious issue,” she said.

A group of people surround an eight-meter scroll with floral designs.
Sharon Field’s botanical art scroll has been well received and inspired audiences in the United States.(Supplied: Sharon Field)

She made sure to add a new species to her scroll every single day she was in the States.

“In my hotel room, the scroll was rolled out on the ironing board because that was the longest space, and I had a small area of ​​the scroll open,” she said.

“I had drawings of American elms, which are endangered there, and I went to the botanical gardens, and interestingly enough, I went to Alcatraz in San Francisco, where the oldest tree in Alcatraz is an Australian tea tree.”

Ironing board with botanical scrollwork in front of window.
Field does one drawing every day, even if he’s out and about in places like New York.(Supplied: Sharon Field)

A conference in Vienna, Austria, has expressed interest in featuring the scroll as part of a university program to pair scholars with botanical artists.

Agriculture with a difference

Farmer Bindi Vanzella, who has a background in conservation farm management, recently hosted Field and Pass Happy Wombat Hazelnuts near Batlow in the Riverina region of New South Wales.

A woman and a man sitting with their dogs among hazelnut trees and grass.
Mrs. Vanzela and Mr. Anderson are farmers who work in the cold climate of southern New South Wales.(Supplied: Louise Halsey)

“The thing that resonated with me was the hazelnut, and the other little item that she took with her to paint was the narrow-leaved mint, which is a local type of eucalyptus,” said Ms. Vanzela.

Mrs. Vanzela’s 20-hectare property was formerly potato and grazing country.

Over three decades, she and her husband, Craig Anderson, have transformed it into an eco-friendly hazelnut and berry farm.

The wombat is standing in the tall grass.
One of the many wombats that coexist with the pair’s farming process.(Supplied: Bindi Vanzela)

“If the wildlife, including wombats in the area, are healthy, that’s a sign that our farm is healthy, so we use it as a species indicator for our farm,” she said.

“Most of the farmers out there would agree that you cannot do farming without being connected to the natural environment.”

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