Cover of the book Birds of Tasmania by Susan Lester featuring a beautiful painting of a yellow-tailed black cockatoo on a branch against a cream background.

OUTSIDE THE BOX / Earth Arts Rights invites you to purchase copies of Birds of Tasmania by Susan Lester. This title is designed by Warner Design and published by OUTSIDE THE BOX / Earth Arts Rights under the imprint An Artist’s Own Book. It is exclusively distributed by OUTSIDE THE BOX / Earth Arts Rights Inc on behalf of the Lester family.

This exquisite short run, bespoke publication with a compelling Tasmanian story is available as a stand-alone book, or a special boxed edition which also includes a digital archival fine art print from a choice of six of the Lester family’s favourite artworks.

The Artist and the Forgotten Paintings

Tasmanian artist Susan Lester began painting birds while working in a souvenir shop in Devonport’s Rooke Street, studying the works of the great natural history illustrators such as Elizabeth and John Gould to develop her technique. Even these earliest attempts sold well in the shop. Her first exhibitions in Strahan and Launceston were sell outs and she quickly attracted the attention of local media and collectors.

In the 1980s, Sue was commissioned to produce 200 paintings of Tasmania’s birds for a limited-edition book to commemorate the Examiner newspaper’s 150th anniversary. She worked for four years to produce the exquisite, detailed paintings, spending much time in the company of well-known ornithologist and Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery curator Dr Bob Green observing the birds in the bush and drawing museum specimens to ensure accuracy.

As she delivered the paintings, the Examiner’s parent company ENT was caught in a notorious political bribery scandal, and company chairman Edmund Rouse was jailed. The book project was abandoned and the paintings were ‘lost’ and then forgotten. Until now…

Taking Flight – To Remember and Celebrate

On 30 January 2022, Susan Lester died after a short, intense battle with cancer.

With the support of Sue’s family and OUTSIDE THE BOX / Earth Arts Rights, in conjunction with Warner Design, Birds of Tasmania by Susan Lester was initiated in early 2022 to celebrate Sue’s artistry and bring to life the full suite of 200 paintings for release to a wider audience this year.

Birds of Tasmania by Susan Lester is a truly bespoke publication. In the tradition of the folio volumes by significant bird artists of the Victorian age, many of the paintings are reproduced as full-page colour-plate illustrations.

The Lester family discovered a single remaining copy of the text written by the late Dr Bob Green in Sue’s filing cabinet. Sue’s sister Libby gently edited the original text to create an informative, up-to-date and lyrical narrative to accompany each of Sue’s paintings.

Publication specifications

ISBN: 978-0-646-86755-7

Title: Birds of Tasmania by Susan Lester

Format: Hardback Quarter bound, reinforced with black head and tail bands, section sewn, Wibalin front and back hard case, debossed foil titling, charcoal satin ribbon, gold foil gilded exposed edges to protect from light, dust and moisture.

Size: 365mm x 265mm [portrait format]

Extent: 320 pages

Stock: 165gsm uncoated woodfree (text pages), 130gsm Hyacinth Blanket (cover)

Images: 200 birds, 114 full-page plates and 86 half-page plates

Publication date: May 2023

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