The Brendel anatomical model collection housed in the Department of Botany at the University of Otago comprises thirty-six specimens. They were procured for the university in the late 1800s by T.J. Parker (1850-97), the first Professor of Biology. The collection is still in use today as a teaching aid in the anatomical and morphological study and classification of plant life. The finely detailed and accurate models are larger than life-size ranging in scale from two times to fifteen hundred times magnification with many of the models modular in order to study their internal botanical structure.
An email request from Janice Lord at the Department of Botany sparked interest in the cataloguing and documentation of the Brendel models housed in the department’s laboratory classrooms. This provided me with the opportunity to not only catalogue but also realise an exhibition outcome to expose the beauty and complexity of the Brendel models to a wider audience through my photographic documentation.
The intricate models are made from papier mâché, with other materials such as wood, cotton, rattan, pulp cane, glass beads, feathers and gelatine. The models are hand painted with oil paint to replicate their natural colours. Their robust nature and ability to withstand damage enables handling in a class setting.
Photographic prints on Moab Slickrock paper plus a catalogue were on display at Inge Doesburg Gallery, Dunedin, 1 – 22 June 2019. A review by James Dignan appeared in the ODT.