#WildWomenInterviews with Janaki Lenin: Episode 14
Nirupa Rao is a botanical illustrator whose work has been published in two books — Pillars of Life – Magnificent Trees of Western Ghats and Hidden Kingdom — Fantastical Plants of the Western Ghats. She’s also illustrated the covers of several of Amitav Ghosh’s novels.
Nirupa started drawing plants as a child, but she didn’t consider art as a profession until much later in life. An internship with the publishing company Bloomsbury in England led to the realisation that Indians didn’t have access to their own natural heritage in a way that would make them treasure it. As a self-taught artist, she recognised the significance of botanical illustrations.
Although Nirupa’s beautiful paintings could easily grace many a living room wall, she prefers to tell stories with her art — of elephant yams, for instance, that fool dung beetles into pollinating them, of the aerial roots of the little-known and under-appreciated trees of the myristic swamps of the Western Ghats.
In the course of her work, Nirupa has picked up botanical proficiency, but she says she still relies on experts to approve her work for scientific accuracy.
While botanical illustration seems to be an old-fashioned profession, she says it remains relevant in the modern-day despite the advent of photography.
Watch the interview to hear more:
Artwork: Nirupa Rao
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