Margaret Senior Award - Winner - WOW

Last night I was speechless. 

I had the honour of winning the Margaret Senior Award and I tried to give a speech, but of course, as winning was a surprise, I failed to mention important people and discuss the things that make this degree so special, and it kept me up half the night, so, please humour me as I get up on my small soapbox again for a better-prepared speech.

Margaret Senior was a remarkable woman and her work as a wildlife illustrator is heralded. This award was made possible by her bequest to the University of Newcastle. I am very humbled to receive an award with such prestige and to have her presence and guidance even now. 

National Parks and Wildlife are the supporters of The Margaret Senior Award and the gift of $1,000. As a natural history illustrator the support of this institute could be no higher honour, as in my work, I strive to achieve scientific accuracy and support conservation and awareness. This money will go directly to my future as a conservation artist.

My theme was the biodiversity of the Yarramalong Valley in the Wyong Shire where I am lucky to live. I thought this project would be a wonderful start to preparing a conservation stall at Yarramalong's Spring Fair next year and connecting with the Central Coast Council regarding the promotion of the valley and its diversity. I hope to promote community awareness of the uniqueness of our wildlife and encourage people to be proud of our ecosystem and to try and conserve our wonderful piece of the earth.  Many people in the Yarramalong community have been very generous, I would like to thank them. As I continue the project, now this huge hurdle is jumped, I plan to make it a high priority and get more involved again with the amazing people I have met so far.

I would also like to thank my amazingly talented classmates. You guys are so inspiring, and everyone's work was of such a high calibre that I was impressed, amazed and humbled. In a very short time we have come so far and we really all should be very proud. Thanks for being an amazing bunch of people, and I hope we can continue to push each other forward and support each other as we go out in the world of illustration. 

My scientific illustration (black and white) was of the Maratus volans, or the Peacock Spider. Dr Jurgen Otto, a legend in the field, was so generous as to lend me specimens of the spiders to study under the microscope. I will be forever grateful to him as this gave me a rare opportunity to study the spiders in detail in a unique and beneficial way. Thanks so much Jurgen!

Finally, all the teachers that actually make the degree: Andrew Howells, Bernadette Drabsch, Prue Sailer, Tanya Hoolihan, Lee Dedman, Deirdre Bean and Trevor Weekes. Really my artworks had a bit of everyone of you in them, not in a cannibalistic way mind you, but in your techniques, tricks and ideas. You inspire individuality while giving technique, and I cant be more grateful. 

Finally to my friends and family. Thanks for your eternal support and love! Especially David and my Ma and Da.