Banjo’s cup runneth over

By Chrissie Goldrick 13 May 2019
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Australian Geographic’s launch cover image has been reimagined as a symbol of conservation for our 150th celebration issue by contemporary Australian conservation wildlife artist Nathan Ferlazzo.

TRADITIONAL NATURAL HISTORY illustration – that fusion of close observation, anatomical understanding and artistic flair combined with a leap of the imagination – exquisitely captures the beauty and truth of our unique flora and fauna. Australian Geographic has employed this form of creative expression to help communicate the wonders of nature ever since we placed ‘Banjo’ the platypus on the cover of our launch issue in January 1987.

The late Rod Scott who created the original Banjo went on to illustrate many subsequent covers along with other talented artists such as Kevin Stead, Tony Oliver and Ego Guiotto. Their beautiful illustrated wildlife covers of native Australian species became the hallmark of Australian Geographic’s first 20 or so years.

For our 150th edition, we decided to revisit Banjo through the sharp eye of one of a new breed of illustrators, whose art captures the collective imagination in a similar way that the photorealistic work of those artists did back in the late 20th century.

Melbourne artist Nathan Ferlazzo’s signature pen-and-ink style is instantly recognisable to his legions of fans on social media. As a passionate and committed conservationist, Nathan uses his considerable talent in the service of the creatures that are the focus of his intricate drawings. He collaborates with a range of global conservation organisations, including Birdlife Australia and World Animal Protection, and he shares with them the proceeds from the sales of limited-edition prints and other products.

We love Nathan’s art and admire his ethos. So we commissioned him to reimagine, in his intricate style, Banjo for modern times and asked him to incorporate key species the Australian Geographic Society has supported, including the southern corroboree frog, Gouldian finch and Ulysses butterfly. The choice of a platypus for the launch cover was an inspired one because this creature, above all others, exemplifies the uniqueness of Australia’s biota. We hope you enjoy Nathan’s take on Banjo as much as we do.

The sale of every product bearing Nathan’s illustration will contribute 5 per cent of the profit back to the Australian Geographic Society and in turn benefit creatures, such as the platypus, whose future is so much less assured now than when we first met Rod Scott’s Banjo.

The new Banjo now adorns a range of stunning mugs produced by Australian company Maxwell & Williams, and are the special subscription offer (subscribe or renew your subscription and receive our 150th issue limited edition mug set, valued at more than $59).

Banjo is also part of the Marini Ferlazzo collection by Nathan Ferlazzo, one of Maxwell & William’s most popular. It’s easy to see why.

Drawn with a traditional nib and ink, Nathan’s incredible designs are an exquisite study of celebrated animals, from Banjo to kookaburras, emus, koalas, green sea turtles and the Asiatic bear.

His illustrations serve to highlight not just the beauty of the natural world, but to raise awareness of endangered species.

A share of the profits from all pieces in the Marini Ferlazzo collection goes to the protection of wildlife around the world.

For more on this beautiful collection visit Maxwell & Williams.