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Roger Swainston

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Nationality  Australian
Role  Artist
Name  Roger Swainston
Full Name  Roger Anthony Swainston
Born  7 May 1960 (1960-05-07) North Cotswold, Gloucestershire, UK
Education  University of Western Australia
Books  Sea Fishes of Southern Australia: Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers
Known for  Painting, Drawing, Illustration, Zoology, Natural history

Swainston s fishes of australia roger swainston

Roger Anthony Swainston, born 7 May 1960, in North Cotswold, Gloucestershire, UK, is an Australian painter, naturalist and zoologist. He is one of the most recognized artists of the underwater world.



Roger Swainston Roger Swainston Underwater Art

Swainston was raised in the Western Australian outback surrounded by wildlife. The unique Australian flora and fauna fascinated and inspired him from an early age and he has drawn and painted it since childhood. In the late 1970s he travelled and worked around the north coast of Australia on fishing trawlers. The endless variety of undersea life he encountered in their nets encouraged him to undertake further studies and he graduated from the University of Western Australia with a degree in Zoology in 1981.

He then worked in the fish department of the Western Australian Museum and took part in a variety of scientific expeditions. These included surveying the fish fauna of Western Australia's south coast with the Museum, the deepwater fauna off the northwest shelf with CSIRO and the reef fauna of Papua New Guinea with CRI. During this period he also illustrated numerous guidebooks on the identification of fish and other marine life and worked with scientific institutions around the world such as the Smithsonian Institution, United Nations FAO, CSIRO and many museums and government departments concerned with the marine environment.

Roger Swainston Swainston39s Fishes of Australia Roger Swainston YouTube

In 1990 he moved to France and spent several years working from a studio in Paris, where he further diversified and developed his work. Illustrations from this period are held by the Musee National des Arts et Traditions Populaires and the Ministry of the Environment. He is presently the official artist for the Conseil Superieur de la Peche in France. Whilst continuing to provide illustrations for a wide range of clients he began to work on methods of capturing the complexity of marine environments. This led to a documentary being made on Swainston's project, to draw underwater a reef in the Red Sea.

Upon Swainston's return to Australia in 1996 he continued this work on marine environments. His focus became the integration of science and art in a manner that fostered both an appreciation of the extraordinary beauty of the subject and an understanding of its diversity and complexity.

In 1999 he held successful solo exhibitions of his work in Sydney and Fremantle and has since held other successful exhibitions in France, USA and Australia. As a conservationist, Roger has supported ecological projects and research, he works closely with conservation organizations to help protect fishery resources and increase knowledge of marine life.

In recent years Swainston has continued the study of the marine environment with large scale underwater drawings and surveys of reef sites around the world. He has pursued scientific illustration with life size portraits of individual fish, intimate studies of their surface, form and function.

He lives and works in Fremantle, Western Australia, with his partner Catherine and their three children.

Clipperton Island

In 2005 Swainston spent two months on Clipperton Island in the eastern Pacific to draw the fauna and flora of this isolated and deserted atoll. As the artist for the French scientific expedition surveying the atoll he was commissioned by the Fondation Gaz de France to create five paintings of Clipperton Island.

Ningaloo Reefs

He also has an ongoing project to survey a range of environments along the Ningaloo Reef and capture them as panoramic underwater scenes, containing all the abundance and diversity to be found there. These will serve as both inspiring works of art and educational tools to help the understanding and preservation of these ecosystems.

Vanuatu - Espiritu Santo Island

In 2006, invited by the Museum of Natural History of Paris, Pro-Natura Int. and Agence Rapho, he spent 2 months on the island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu to draw an underwater reef portrait as well as a variety of marine species and the flora and fauna of the untouched rainforest.

Endeavour Panels

Under a commission by the Department of Education of Western Australia in 1999 he produced a detailed 7.2m X 1.5m panel of life on Western Australian coastal reefs as a Public Art Project for the students of Endeavour Primary School.

Hillarys Artworks

In 2004 he was commissioned through the Percent for Art scheme to prepare a number of large panels to be installed in a new Research and Education facility for the WA Fisheries Department. These works use new techniques and materials, such as reflective pigments. They represent a distillation of his many years of experience with marine life to create evocative mural sized panels with hidden layers of meaning and ever-changing intriguing surfaces.

Red Sea Reef

In 1995 A French documentary team enabled Swainston to embark on a project that had occupied his thoughts for many years, to draw his underwater subjects from life. During a voyage to Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula he executed the first of his large scale panoramic drawings of the coral reef, which formed the basis of a half hour documentary "[Peintre sous la Mer][1]" (Segment Productions).

TV documentaries and reports

  • 1988 - ABC (Australia) Swainson’s work on sharks with CSIRO
  • 1995 - FR3 (France) The illustrative work of Roger Swainston
  • 1997 - Arte/La Cinq (France) a 50 minutes documentary on Roger’s creation of an underwater drawing of a reef in the Red Sea.
  • 2002 - ABC (Australia, 7.30 Report) Roger working on the Ningaloo Reef
  • 2004 - TV documentary Thalassa (France) in Coral Bay
  • 2005 - TV documentary CANAL+ (France) on Clipperton Island expedition with Swainston mandated by the French government.
  • 2006 - TV documentary for Thalassa (France) from Vanuatu - Espiritu Santo Island
  • Represented and collected

  • Australian National Archives [2], Australia
  • Western Australian Museum [3], Australia
  • CSIRO [4]
  • Education Department WA [5], Port Kennedy, Australia
  • Ministere de l'environnement ONEMA [6] Paris, France
  • Musee des Arts et Traditions Populaires [7], Paris, France
  • Perth Game Fishing Club [8]
  • Fondation Gaz de France [9]
  • Fisheries Department WA [10], Perth Australia
  • Musee Oceanique de Monaco [11], Monaco
  • Woodside Petroleum [12], Australia
  • Smithsonian Institution [13], USA
  • Prince De Broglie, Deyrolle [14] Paris France
  • FAO [15] Rome, Italy
  • Private Collections including: England, France, Germany, Switzerland, U.S.A., Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Monaco.
  • Books illustrated

  • Barry Hutchins and Roger Swainston, THE SEA FISHES OF SOUTHERN AUSTRALIA, Swainston Publishing, 1987. 180 pages
  • Gerald R.Allen and Roger Swainston,THE MARINE FISHES OF NORTH-WESTERN AUSTRALIA, Western Australia Museum,1988. 201 pages
  • Gerald R Allen and Roger Swainston, THE REEF FISHES OF NORTHERN NEW GUINEA, Christensen Research Institute,1993. 132 pages.
  • Peter Last and John Stephens, SHARKS AND RAYS OF AUSTRALIA, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, 1994. 593 pages.
  • Gerald R Allen,FIELD GUIDE TO THE FRESHWATER FISHES OF NEW GUINEA, Christensen Research Institute,1993.132 pages.
  • Gerald R.Allen, F.A.O. SPECIES CATALOGUE Volume 6, Snappers of the World, FAO of the United Nations, 1985, 264 pages.
  • Kent E.Carpenter and Gerald R.Allen, F.A.O. SPECIES CATALOGUE Volume 9, Emperor Fishes and Large Eyed Breams of the World, FAO of the United Nations,1989. 134pages.
  • WOODSIDES GUIDE TO FISHING THE DAMPIER ARCHIPELAGO Volumes I - II - III, Woodside Offshore Petroleum Pty,1986 /89/92. 80 pages.
  • V.Wadley, SQUID FROM THE NORTH-WEST SLOPE DEEPWATER TRAWL FISHERIES, Common.Scientific Ind.and Research Org.,1990. 30pp
  • Dr Gerald R.Allen - D.R Robertson, FISHES of the TROPICAL EASTERN PACIFIC, Uni. of Hawaii Press 1994 - 332pp.
  • Dr G.R.Allen and R.C. Steene, FISHES OF THE GREAT BARRIER REEF AND CORAL SEA, Crawford House Press,1990 - 508 pp.
  • COASTAL FISHES OF OMAN, Crawford House Press, in press 1995
  • R.T. Leighton and al, SHARKS AND RAYS, TIME-LIFE Books U.S.A. 1997, 288pp.
  • M. Carwardine and al, WHALES AND DOLPHINS, TIME-LIFE Books U.S.A. 1998, 288pp
  • D.Fauntain and G.Allen, FIELD GUIDE TO THE ANEMONE FISHES AND THEIR HOSTS, West. Australian Museum, 1997-300pp
  • G.Allen, DAMSELFISHES OF THE WORLD, Mergus Press,1991, 200 pp..
  • G.R.Allen and R.C. Steene, FISHES OF CHRISTMAS ISLAND, INDIAN OCEAN, Christmas Island Natural History Authority, 1988. 200 pp.
  • J.C. Chantelat, LA PECHE - Guide Vert, Edition SOLAR - France -,1995. 365 pages.
  • FISH AUSTRALIA, Penguin Books Australia,
  • Barbra Blomberg, TASMANIAN SEAFOOD COOKING, Department of Sea Fisheries Tasmania,1988, 144 pages.
  • CORAL REEFS OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA, Environmental Protection Authority Bulletin 285,1987. 18pp.
  • F.E.Wells and C.W.Bryce, SEASHELLS OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA, Western Australia Museum,1985- 207pp.
  • P.J. Kailola et al., AUSTRALIAN FISHERIES RESOURCES, Bureau of Resource Sciences Aust. 1993-422pp
  • J.Ross editor, FISH AUSTRALIA, Penguin Books Australia Ltd - 1995 - 498pp.
  • J.B.De Panafieu, PLANETE EAU DOUCE, Gallimard Jeunesse - 2003
  • References

    Roger Swainston Wikipedia