On the topic of the Australia Museum, there’s a dedicated exhibition at the moment showing the amazing artwork of Harriet and Helena Scott, two female colonial artists who created their amazing works 150 years ago. In the days before Youtube, the sisters set out to capture the unspoilt beauty of their home with their arty dad. Today, their art has gone on to lead the conservation efforts of the contemporary Australians.

From archivist Rose Docker:

In 1846, Harriet and Helena, then aged 16 and 14, moved from Sydney to the isolated Ash Island in the Hunter River estuary with their mother, Harriet Calcott, and father, entomologist and entrepreneur Alexander Walker Scott.

There, surrounded by unspoilt native vegetation and under the inspiring tutelage of their artistic father, their shared fascination with the natural world grew. For almost 20 years, the sisters lived and worked on the island, faithfully recording its flora and fauna, especially the butterflies and moths.

Some 150 years later, members of Newcastle’s Kooragang Wetland Rehabilitation Project began to rehabilitate areas of the Hunter estuary, including the 780-hectare Ash Island.

In preparing their historical snapshot of the island’s vegetation, the Kooragang group returned to the Scotts’ unusually detailed nineteenth-century recordings, held in the Australian Museum Archives. The collection includes a catalogue handwritten in 1862 entitled the Indigenous Botany of Ash Island, well-preserved botanical specimens, and spectacular depictions and scientific descriptions of the island’s moths and butterflies – the great strength of the two artists and their father.

Is there anything cooler than young ladies drawing moths? I don’t think so. This is so much better than some dead old European dudes’ pics of naked ladies. Go see this instead. Museum Australia is open 9:30am to 5pm daily at 6 College Street, Sydney. The exhibition 'Beauty from Nature: art of the Scott Sisters' ends 27 November.

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