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Call of the Wild

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Linda Lunnon has a passion for the natural world. Through her work as an Environmental Advisor she is dedicated to conserving it, and through her remarkable art she shares it.  

From her earliest years you would find Linda outside playing. She was at her happiest climbing trees, chasing bees and butterflies, and bringing home all types of interesting critters and plants. When she did finally find her way back indoors it was only to pick up a pencil to draw what she had seen.

“Before I even knew what natural history illustration was, I was drawing birds and plants. My two most treasured possessions growing up were a large tin of Derwent Artist pencils and a huge book on Australian birds that was given to me by my nan. I remember being amazed that there were so many different types of birds. It was my first glimpse into the amazing biodiversity of our world,” said Linda.

When she left school Linda knew that she wanted a career in art or environmental science, but it was the job security of the latter that informed her decision. She completed a Natural Resources degree at the University of New England and soon after started work in the Hunter Valley as an environmental consultant before landing an environmental role in the mining industry. Today Linda is a Senior Environmental Advisor with Thiess at Mt Owen, and she couldn’t be prouder of her career in the mining industry.

“The work I am doing is extremely rewarding. By using a science-based research approach we are seeing fantastic results in rehabilitation outcomes. While I’ve held both project and corporate based roles, the most satisfying part of the job by far is rehabilitating mined land to native forest.

“What’s really making a difference these days is how the mining industry collaborates to achieve best outcome environmental practices. By sharing what we know and what we continue to learn, its helping to restore and enhance the post mining landscape.”

Capturing that natural beauty in art is Linda’s calling.

In 2010, Linda discovered the Natural History Illustration degree. Being only an hour away at the University of Newcastle, Linda saw it as a way to develop her art, while also blending her love of science. Linda enthused on how much she enjoyed it, although the 5 year degree took an enormous amount of hard work.

“It was simply the best, learning illustration through studio and field studies with like-minded people and being mentored by some of the most skilled and generous artists I’ve come across.”

It was during the degree that Linda was first introduced to her now preferred medium, scratchboard. Scratchboard is where a panel or card is covered with a fine, smooth layer of clay and sprayed with black ink. Sharp tools are then used to scratch the ink away to reveal the white clay underneath. With some of her artworks having up to 80 hours of labour invested in them, Linda does admit that it’s an artform that requires a lot of patience.

“I love it for the fine details you can achieve, though it takes a lot of dedication. For me it’s very meditative, I can get ‘in the zone’ for hours at a time if allowed.”

During Linda’s final year of study, she was awarded the Margaret Senior Wildlife Illustration Award, the first of many accolades she has received. In 2018, Linda joined the International Society of Scratchboard Artists (ISSA) and in 2021 was successful in becoming one of only 16 living Master Scratchboard Artists in the world. Most recently Linda was awarded 3rd in the Masters section of the annual online ISSA exhibition and was selected as a Finalist for the 2022 Hunter Emerging Art Prize. Her works have also been displayed at galleries and exhibitions.

While most of her works feature the wonders of the natural world, recently Linda has begun to experiment with portraits, entranced by the beauty and expressiveness of the human face.

“When I was young, I would search through old copies of National Geographic for photos of people that I could draw. The more expressive they were, the more interest they held as I would try to interpret the stories their faces told. While it’s very challenging doing portraiture in scratchboard, it’s also very rewarding.

“I love the reaction that you get from people seeing something brought to life through art. The natural world is incredible, and our unique Australian landscapes and biodiversity are a constant source of inspiration to me.

“As an environmental scientist, I want to record these curiosities in all their beautiful detail. As an artist, I want my illustrations to inspire and motivate people to be curious, learn more and appreciate the beauty in our plants and wildlife. With that awareness and appreciation will hopefully come the desire to protect and conserve what we have.”

Check out Linda’s artwork at www.lindalunnon.com and for the chance to win one of Linda’s beautiful prints, head to our Facebook page.

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