Life time work honoured through exhibition and book

THE University of Wollongong’s Janet Cosh Herbarium is a collection of plant specimens from the Illawarra and Southern Highlands that provide important historical and conservation information on the distribution of plant species.

The herbarium provides a service for organisations and consultants who require plant identification, botanical surveys and analysis.

Janet Cosh (1901-1989) was a woman with a deep passion for the bush who left her collection of pressed plant specimens and drawings, along with a monetary contribution, to the University of Wollongong so that a regional herbarium could be formed.

A selection of the Janet Cosh Herbarium collection has been on show to honour her botanical achievements and to highlight the impact a well-managed bequest can have as a resource available to the University and the wider public.

The exhibition in the Faculty of Creative Arts Long Gallery marks a milestone in the Community Engagement Grants Scheme – 2011 CEGS funded project Creativity and expertise: documenting and publishing the life and work of the late Janet Cosh, a partnership between the Janet Cosh Herbarium and the South Coast Writers Centre.

The Director of the Janet Cosh Herbarium, Professor Kris French, officially opened the exhibition on Thursday with the launch of the book on Janet Cosh’s life as an amateur botanist and artist.

The book, Flowering Wonderfully – The Botanical Legacy of Janet Cosh, by Jean Clarke and Alison Haynes, traces the life of a woman with a deep interest in the local botany and nature, and whose legacy is also remembered in the landscape: in the Janet Cosh Wildflower Walk, the Janet Cosh Memorial Room, the Janet Cosh Lookout at Fitzroy Falls and in the Cosh Park, Sutton Forest.

Project manager and University Fellow, Jean Clarke, said that the herbarium also initiated the Campus Tree Walk on the University’s main Wollongong campus – a series of local native tree plantings with 44 eucalypt and rainforest species.

The book has been produced with the funding and support of the UOW Office of Community and Partnerships and the South Coast Writers Centre, as well as the Faculty of Science and the School of Biological Sciences.

Friederike Krishnabhakdi-Vasilakis, project partner and director of the South Coast Writers Centre (SCWC) said a project like this emphasised the valuable, yet often undiscovered, contributions made by women to natural history.

SCWC poets Jack Baker and Christine Paice performed at the launch. Paice, who was commissioned to write poetry celebrating the life and work of Janet Cosh in 2010, read from her Janet Cosh collection at the opening.

The exhibition will be on display at the Long Gallery, Faculty of Creative Arts (Bldg 25) until October 26. For further information contact Jean Clarke on 4221 4340 or Professor Kris French on 4221 3655.

About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.


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