This is the story of Celia Rosser, internationally acclaimed botanical illustrator, who dedicated her life to painting the entire genus of Banksia, the only artist to have done so. Her dedication to the task put her at the centre of the Monash Banksia Project for twenty-five years, and culminated in the production of an extraordinary three-volume florilegium that became one of the great books published in the twentieth century.
Banksia Lady reveals the emergence of an artist who grew up in difficult circumstances during the Great Depression and who pursued her art as a way of protecting herself from the harsher side of life. The story follows Celia’s struggle to pursue her artistic passion while fulfilling the expectations that women of the 1950s would subordinate themselves as wives and mothers. As her children became more independent, she recognised opportunities and, eventually, found a place at Monash University to fully express herself through her art.
In telling this story of Celia Rosser’s unparalleled talent and extraordinary achievement, this book explores the history of botanical illustration, botany, academia, gardens and their herbarium, and Australia’s place in changing the shape of the world.