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Renowned wildlife illustrator William T. Cooper was once described by Sir David Attenborough as the best ornithological illustrator alive.
He was even the subject of one of Sir David’s films, Portrait Painter to the Birds.
In a career stretching back to the early 1960s, Mr Cooper illustrated numerous books, including Portfolio of Australian Birds, Parrots of the World, Birds of Paradise and Bowerbirds.
All the books were authored by Canberra ornithologist Joseph Forshaw, with whom Mr Cooper partnered for more than 40 years.
Mr Cooper’s paintings and illustrations have hung in galleries around the world.
William Cooper said he always “fiddling around” drawing birds when he was a child.
Photo: William Cooper said he always “fiddling around” drawing birds when he was a child. (Supplied: CSIRO Publishing)
In 1994, he received an Order of Australia for his contribution to art and natural history.
Known for his extreme attention to detail, Mr Cooper spoke with the ABC about his technique last year.
“The relationship with the bill, to the eye, to the head size, they all go to give that bird the right look,” he said.
Photo: A 1971 painting of a night parrot by William Cooper. (Supplied: National Library of Australia)
“If you can catch the expression of the bird, then you’ve got the gist.
“As a child, I always had an interest in wildlife, natural history and I was always fiddling around drawing birds.
“There was no opening to work professionally in bird painting in the early years but then gradually an interest arose in the public in wildlife.”