FOR THE LOVE OF NATURE: E. E. GOSTELOW’S BIRDS & FLOWERS BY CHRISTOBEL MATTINGLEY, NATIONAL LIBRARY OF AUSTRALIA, $29.95.
An unexpected gem of a book, not just for the delicate colour plates of Australian wildflowers and birds, but for the story of the man who painted them.
Born in 1866, Ebenezer Edward Gostelow was a country schoolteacher and self-taught artist with a passion for the natural world. To inspire his students, he would depict birds and flowers in coloured chalk on the blackboard – and so honed his skill that, by the end of his 50-year career, he undertook the challenge of recording all known species of Australian birds. He achieved it, too.
His vivid, intricate paintings will charm any reader and reflect what Christobel Mattingley describes as his cheerful, easy-going nature, which made him a great favourite with students. Lucky them. Lucky us, too, to get this reminder of one of Australia’s quiet achievers.