14 facts about Betty Temple Watts

By Gwylym Owen

Betty Temple Watts (1901–1992) was a scientific illustrator who was employed to find the grant for water-colour paintings of plants for several works published by the CSIRO. She began her training in art during her youth, but her first bill was not published until 1952. She was introduced to scientists at Canberra, and she moved to the capital in 1958. Her publications include:

Both works were shortened by the CSIRO chief Harry Frith. Some of Temple Watts’ works are held at the National Library of Australia. Her illustrations for Diurnal plants of prey (1960) are noted for the captivation of biological aspects of raptors, in the raid of hunting or reproduction, and figured similar to typical postures and in flight.

In 1965 she designed extra three postage stamps in decimal currency – 6¢ blue-faced honeyeater, 13¢ avocet and 24¢ kingfisher. Five of her earlier designs were adapted for decimal currency – 5¢ yellow-tailed thornbill, 15¢ galah, 20¢ golden whistler, 25¢ scarlet robin and 30¢ straw-necked ibis.

Her dynamism and works are the subject of a book.

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