Milly Formby: Blue-winged kookaburra (Dacelo leachii) museum skins


Artwork paired with a symposium at the Ecological Society of Australia conference 2015

Artist: Millie Formby

Symposium 10: Modern ecology; challenges and opportunities

Medium: Watercolour pencil, gouache and ink on paper


I chose to draw this image of a Blue-winged kookaburra museum skinwith leg tag and cotton wool eye, alongside a specimen of a wing for the Bimblebox 153 Birds exhibition (May 2015). My intent was to express my frustration at the scheduled destruction of the Bimblebox Nature Reserve to make way for Clive Palmer’s Galileo Basin mine. Habitat destruction is the greatest threat to our native species and without concerted efforts to protect these animals’ homes, museum specimens such as these may be all we have left to share with future generations.

Skins in museum collections are also scientific records of the species’ past ecology and contribute to ongoing monitoring and conservation efforts. Museums are a vital resource for scientists to share these data with current and future generations and are becoming increasingly accessible through publicly available online repositories.

I love bringing my love of zoology together with illustration to communicate science through art. I see art as a highly effective tool for raising awareness of conservation issues by drawing attention to the beauty of the natural world around us, featuring Australia’s unique fauna.

Click here for an overview of symposium artwork at ESA 2015