Rosemary Wise

Research Interests

My work principally involves producing detailed line drawings to support monographic works, floras, scientific papers, D.Phil theses and some teaching.

At present I am preparing 150 comprehensive plates for a monograph of Ipomoea for Robert Scotland and John Wood.  Similar projects over the past 50 years have included Meliaceae, Pinus, Parkia, Chrysobalanaceae, Aglaia, Leucaena, Brachystegia, Inga (for RBGKew) and Strobilanthus. My 170+ drawings of African Acacias are as yet unpublished.

For many years I worked exclusively for the late Frank White (Vegetation of Africa, Evergreen Forests of Malawi and countless papers).

My line drawings and a few watercolours support many theses, including those of Terry Pennington, Ghillian Prance, Jameson Seyani, Alison McDonald, Alistair Hay, Matthew Jebb, William Hawthorne, Colin Hughes, Julie Hawkins, Tiina Sarkinen and one second generation – that of Toby Pennington!

Travel has been another important aspect of my career, again with very varied tasks.  Following a collecting expedition to Borneo, I became involved with the Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak project and visited the areas on four more occasions. I ran several workshops to train prospective illustrators and provided many drawings myself.  How wonderful it is to illustrate a new species on the very day that it is collected.

A month in Portugal with David Mabberley resulted in many drawings for “Algarve Plants and Landscape”.  During two trips to Grenada with William Hawthorne and Colin Hughes one of my several projects included painting upper and lower surfaces of 100 tree species for an exercise in identification. I ran a course in illustration in the National Museum of Kenya and worked in the herbarium on our Acacia project. Two research fellowships were spent at the Christensen Research Institute in Papua New Guinea (“Aroids of Papua New Guinea” with Alistair Hay, and paintings of the three edible Barringtonias in Curtis’s Botanical Magasine with Matthew Jebb. My line drawings of Barringtonias for Ghillian Prance were published recently). Three trips to Bolivia with John Wood resulted in series of educational posters from the Andean Valleys and of the Cerrado vegetation.

Working as associate staff for the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew has also involved travel. Four visits to Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) led to 10 posters featuring plants from the 10 distinct vegetation zones from sea level to 4000 ma,s,l.  I travelled in Northern Peru with Terry Pennington to provide a series of watercolour plates to accompany my 917 line drawings for his book “Trees of Peru”.

My own project followed on from travelling to the Seychelles on an expedition with students from Plant Sciences and Zoology in 1985 for which I had been awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship.  I researched the endemic plants of the granitic islands, located all 80 and completed comprehensive watercolour of each during some 15 visits.  My book “A Fragile Eden” was published by Princeton University Press in 1998.

Being employed part time has enabled me to branch out into other areas.  I spent 5 years painting insects in the Hope Department of Entomology, a few years as a Biological/medical artist for Oxford Illustrators and have provided artwork for many gardening books and floras on a freelance basis.  I run the Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum Florilegium Project with Barbara McLean.

Recipient of the Jill Smythies medal from the Linnean Society of London for published botanical illustrations and the Sibthorp medal from this department for “Lifetime Services to Botany”.

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