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The Margaret Flockton Award



Entries to the 2023 Margaret Flockton Award can be submitted between Monday 8 May and  Sunday 21 May EST.


Please see 'Entry Requirements' at the bottom of this page for more details.

MFA 2023 Exhibition details will be announced soon

Winners of the 2022 Margaret Flockton Award are revealed below. Watch the announcement video featuring Chief Executive Denise Ora and celebrate scientific botanical illustration with Botanical Illustrators Catherine Wardrop and Lesley Elkan. 

2022 Margaret Flockton Award Exhibition

The Margaret Flockton Award commemorates the contribution Margaret Flockton made to Australian scientific botanical illustration. The Maple-Brown Family and the Foundation & Friends of the Botanic Gardens sponsor this annual, international award for excellence in scientific botanical illustration.

Every year, illustrators from around the world submit scientifically accurate drawings that accompany the published taxonomic description of a plant, clearly highlighting all of the distinctive features of the species. Original taxonomic illustrations are highly detailed black and white drawings primarily undertaken in pen and ink, pencil or digitally rendered.

Notes from the 2022 judges

The judges for the 2022 Award were Hannah McPherson, Manager Collections and Catherine Wardrop and Lesley Elkan, Botanical Illustrators and Margaret Flockton Award curators, Australian Institute of Botanical Science.

This year 52 artists from 21 countries submitted 74 entries to the Margaret Flockton Award.

Illustrations in a range of mediums were again submitted - largely there were pen and ink line and stipple works on paper or board but also noted was an increased number of skilfully rendered digital works, increasingly with black backgrounds. There was also a swing away from graphite/pencil works, perhaps as they generally do not reproduce as well in publication. The judges were pleased to see the increasingly experimental works in the digital field as artists overcome the peculiar disadvantages and challenges of working on-screen.

The majority of files entered were scanned and cleaned at a publication standard which the judges noted. Nearly all of the files loaded without any issues and at the correct resolution and file type. This reflects that contemporary illustrators are really becoming fluent at every aspect of modern illustration right through to the final publishing stage.

Some beautiful compositions were seen reflecting the natural habit of the plants, the best of which also observed the crucial rule of layering elements – artists created a white ‘halo’ around the feature in the foreground to separate elements and give clarity. Complex compositions require this technique to avoid visual density and confusion.

Again it was noted that almost all of the works submitted were the full A3 size. At this large size artists are tempted to draw features overly large and in too much detail for clear reproduction at 67%. Economy of time and technique is valued in scientific illustration. Sometimes smaller is better.

Altogether the body of entries really reflected the level of dedication and skill of the artists. The focus on botanical research and interpretation really was very inspiring and all of the artists are to be congratulated on their productivity and passion.
An outstanding result for a long-time entrant in the MFA. Delicately rendered in ink on board with Klei’s trade-mark restraint, the perfect line and stipple had the judges straining to find a flaw (which they didn’t). The crucial white halos around foreground features help delineate form, avoiding confusion when layering. With every essential aspect comprehensively rendered in fine stipple, and with zero superfluous information, Klei brings together scientific accuracy and an experienced artistic sensibility in this beautiful plate. 
What a fuzzy little plant this is! From the habit to the various magnified details the artist has interpreted the texture of the different hairs superbly, whether dense and branching, slender and arching or simple and clustered. Rendered on paper in ink, his technique required no corrections with superb linework and subtle stipple supporting the forms. A fascinating illustration that had the judges returning to it again and again.
As yet this is an unpublished new species, so the new name is still under-wraps. This carefully rendered illustration displays the artist’s great skill in interpreting hirsute subjects while avoiding any blocking-in or overly-dense inked sections. The form of the subject is still clearly understandable, despite the extreme hairiness of the plant. Composition flawless.
A complex composition, deftly balancing maximum information with clarity of arrangement. All identifying features are interpreted with a natural informality, rather than being overly stylistic. Scale bars, while numerous, are delicately arranged so as not to overwhelm the other information on the plate.
A stunning work. The contrast of pale foreground figures with black background really makes the features pop. Beyond that however, the level of scientific detail was clear and sensitive without being unnecessarily overwhelming, a challenge for artists working digitally in particular. The texture of the leaf surfaces and the little, theatrically-lit habit drawing were greatly appreciated by the judges.

Spotlight on Botanical Artists

As a special bonus feature for 2022, every week for 4 weeks we are adding a video to this page highlighting the career of four amazing botanical artists that feature in the Florilegium of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and the Margaret Flockton Award:

  • 1 Nov – Sansanee Deekrajang
  • 7 Nov – Noriko Watanabe
  • 14 Nov – Annie Patterson
  • 21 Nov – Deborah Lambkin
Sansanee Deekrajang
Noriko Watanabe 
Annie Patterson
Deborah Lambkin

Winners 2021

1st Prize
Notoleptopus decaisnei (ink) by Esmee Winkel from the Netherlands

Esmee’s illustration has been award the 1st prize this year for its exacting skilful technique and perfectly balanced composition. The clarity of the strong line is complemented by the perfectly rendered elements, with a concise stipple technique used only where required to convincingly describe form.  Line weight is also used to describe shadow and depth. The illustration rhythmically reveals the life cycle and key features of this Western Australian species.
Find out more
2nd Prize
Vellozia inselbergae (ink) by Rogerio Lupo from Brazil 

This finely rendered illustration is flawlessly executed in ink on board. Exquisite hatching clearly but sensitively describes the complex form of the habit. Textures are a joy to discover, with careful observation of highlights and shadows creating a clear impression of raspy edges, course anthers and oh-so-many awl-shaped protuberances!

This illustration is in memory of Professor Renato Mello-Silva, who was responsible for the discovery, research and description of this and many other new species of Velloziaceae that the artist has illustrated.
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Highly Commended
Cycas siamensis (graphite) by Sansanee Deekrajang from Thailand 

The judges were blown away by this masterful pencil rendering.  The structure of the highly complex Cycas species was clearly and accurately captured while still maintaining a soft tonal effect.  The layering of the many elements, although ‘intense’ is still easy to read and reproduces well.  The artist’s love of the medium and the subject is clearly evident in this ambitious artwork.
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Highly Commended
Dionaea muscipula (ink and graphite) by Francois Sockhom Mey from France

This illustration captures the viewer with its dynamic style.  The plant jumps from the page and almost comes alive – who’d be a fly?  While a more stylised illustration, this work still captures in scientific detail all of the key features of the species in an excellent and easy to read composition.
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Highly Commended
Acacia terminalis subsp. Eastern Sydney (G.P.Phillips 126) - Anna Voytsekhovich from Australia 

This smaller illustration displays highly proficient technique, resulting in a perfect example of a black and white plate suitable for reduction and publication. Stippling and linework are in perfect balance to describe the minute pinnae of the Acacia and the treatment of the inflorescence depicts the lightly coloured, fluffy flowers.  Although not a complex composition, it clearly illuminates the key features of this well-known, but as yet unnamed, subspecies of Acacia terminalis.
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Winners 2020

1st Prize
Gastrodia sp. nov., Deborah Lambkin, United Kingdom
Find out more
2nd Prize
Pinus sylvestris, Sansanee Deekrajang, Thailand
Find out more
Highly Commended
Luffa aegyptiaca, Claudia Carceles Roman, Spain
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Highly Commended
Begonia langenbergiana, Joelcio Frietas, Brazil
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Highly Commended
 Zea mays var. Indentata, Lucia Garces, Grenada
Find out more
Entry Requirements

All previous winners of the Margaret Flockton Award are eligible to enter, excluding the 2020, 2021 and 2022 first prize winning artists.

There are no entry fees for the Margaret Flockton Award and Exhibition.

Entries to be submitted between Monday 8 May and 5pm EST Sunday 21 May.

Works must have been produced after May 2021.

Saturday 12 August- Sunday 8 October 2023 (TBC) at The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan.

Online Flickr gallery: from Monday 14 August, 2023. 

All illustrations and paperwork must be submitted digitally. Original artworks and paperwork sent via the postal system will no longer be accepted.

Each artist may submit up to two illustrations. Only high resolution digital scans of black and white (for example pen and ink, graphite or scraperboard) illustrations and/or monochromatic, digitally rendered illustrations, either published or unpublished, will be considered. All illustrations must be intended for 2D printed output. Animated or 3D rendered works or images dependent on digital viewing, as well as photos and photo montage works, are not eligible for submission.

Entries are to be digitally submitted at 100% of original artwork size with an image area no larger than A3 (295 mm x 420 mm) and no smaller than (180 x 250 mm), EXCLUDING legend. Illustrations outside of these parameters will not be accepted. The digital canvas size may only be longer than A3 to allow for the legend. The illustration should include a small legend (with plant name and all lettered components), neatly written or typed at the bottom of the artwork, outside of the image area.

Only full plate illustrations will be accepted (inclusive of habit study and diagnostic features of the species). Inclusion of scale bars, whilst not compulsory, is highly recommended.

Note: eligible entries may be printed at 67% of original size to assess reproducibility at judging.

Due to limitations of space, a selection of works will be made for exhibition.
Illustrations selected for exhibition will be printed on high quality paper and framed in standard exhibition frames or printed at high resolution on good quality outdoor display material such as canvas or vinyl. Some works may be enlarged for display, subject to artists approval.

The Margaret Flockton Award Exhibition will display high quality prints of submitted digital files only. Original artworks are neither exhibited nor sold at the Margaret Flockton Award Exhibition. If artists wish to provide an email or professional website address for direct enquiries regarding sales/other from the customer, please enter details on the biography template and consent to their use via the entry form.

 On the entry form consent is sought for the following -

1. for the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust to store and print one high resolution copy of each entry for judging and exhibition.

2. to allow high resolution illustrations to be reproduced and biographical information to be used by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust or the Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens for the sole purpose of promoting the Margaret Flockton Award and Exhibition.

3. to allow low resolution illustrations to be created and watermarked with ‘MFA2023’ and biographical information to be viewed in an on-line ‘flickr’ gallery format created by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust and the Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens.

4. to indicate that your original or digital print is available for sale.

5. for your contact details to be publicly displayed on your biography and exhibition label.

The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust and the Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens are the sole owners of the information collected from the entry forms and any other information submitted and will not sell or rent this information to others. Information will be shared for the sole purpose of advertising or promoting the Margaret Flockton Award and Exhibition. All care of artworks and rights of artists will be respected and no illustrations will be commercially reproduced from this process.

Create a folder to upload your completed forms (1-4) in your Dropbox account.
Label your folder as follows: SURNAME MFA 2023 (eg. WARDROP MFA 2023)

1. Complete my entry form
Each illustration must be accompanied by an entry form. When submitting this form you are agreeing to all of the conditions of entry. Please read all conditions carefully before submitting.
Incomplete entry forms may render entries ineligible. Please tick the checklist on the entry form to ensure all information has been supplied.
Please note: Label your entry form as follows: SURNAME entry form (eg. WARDROP entry form.docx)

2. Complete my label template
Each illustration is to be accompanied by a fully completed label template with the scientific name of the plant, medium, artist's name and the legend of the drawing. These will be printed and displayed with each work.
Please note: Label your label template as follows: SURNAME Plant name label template (eg. WARDROP Casuarina glauca label template.docx)

3. Complete my biography
The provision of biographical information, contact details and photo is completely optional.
Please note: Label your biography as follows: SURNAME biography (eg. WARDROP biography.docx)
see example biography.

A folder containing biographies of the contributing artists is compiled each year for visitors to refer to. For your biography a template has been provided on the link above with fields for your name, date and place of birth; education and career highlights; publication and exhibition history; website and email contact details. A scanned portrait or suitable passport photo of the artist is also to be inserted in the delineated spot in the template. Otherwise, a digital photo can be emailed separately.
Please limit the length of your biography to under two A4 pages.

NOTE: Original artworks are neither exhibited nor sold at the Margaret Flockton Award Exhibition. If artists wish to provide an email or professional website address for direct enquiries regarding sales/other from the customer, they must enter those details on the biography template and consent to their use via the entry form.

4. Supply a taxonomic description
A taxonomic description (either published or unpublished) must be provided with each illustration. The taxonomic description should be typed and submitted electronically. This will not be framed with the artwork but will be available in a separate folder during the judging and exhibition. Examples of such descriptions can be found in local Flora publications or on PlantNET, an on-line resource for the plants of New South Wales.
Please note: Label your taxonomic description as follows: SURNAME Genus taxonomic description (eg. WARDROP Casuarina taxonomic description.docx)

Digital submission - artwork

All illustrations and paperwork must be submitted digitally via Dropbox

Submit completed forms (1-4) with up to two image files to Dropbox
Please note: Label each image file as follows: ARTIST SURNAME Plant name (eg. WARDROP Casuarina glauca.tiff)
Once you have created your account be sure to invite to View AND Edit files in the shared folder where you have uploaded your image files.
Ensure you have emailed to notify the curators of your entry in Dropbox.
The Margaret Flockton Award Committee will contact you to confirm your image files have been received.
Digital file specifications
One high resolution digitial file is to be submitted for each illustration. The file size should not exceed 200MB.

High resolution for judging and exhibiting:
No photos of artworks will be accepted - scanned original works or digitally created images only.

Ink line and stipple - Bitmap tiff @ 1200dpi
Pencil or Continuous tone - Greyscale tiff or psd (NOT jpg) (Colour files will NOT be accepted, please convert to greyscale) @ 600dpi (minimum).

Entries are to be digitally submitted at 100% of original artwork size with an image area no larger than A3 (295 mm x 420 mm) and no smaller than (180 x 250 mm), EXCLUDING legend. Illustrations outside of these parameters will not be accepted. The digital canvas size may only be longer than A3 to allow for the legend.

Whilst large file transfer sites such as Dropbox are reliable and secure The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust and the Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens will not be liable for any breaches of security associated with transfer of digital images and information associated with the entries in the Margaret Flockton Award nor will they be responsible for any loss or damage of files in transit.

Entries will be assessed in accordance with the following criteria: accurate interpretation and portrayal of plant characters and diagnostic features; technical merit; reproducibility; composition; artistic merit. See A Guide to Scientific Illustration for more information on judging criteria.

Works should be submitted as ready for publication and must be capable of being reduced to 67% of the original size without loss of detail. A major criterion of scientific illustration is that images should be clearly and simply reproduced through the printing process.

After judging or, in the case of exhibited works, at the conclusion of the exhibition period, all high resolution digital files and printed illustrations will be destroyed with the exception of the winning, second prize and highly commended works. These are to be stored for historical and publicity purposes only. With the artist’s permission (see entry form) low resolution jpgs will be available for on-line viewing from 14 August 2023 via our Flickr gallery.

First and second prize-winners will be paid by electronic transfer in Australian dollars soon after the awards are announced. Overseas artists will be paid by International Money Transfer in Australian dollars and will need to provide their bank account information upon request. Overseas artists should note their banking institutions may charge fees for international transactions

The science of botany requires plant taxonomists to describe plant species in both words and drawings, with botanists preparing a detailed description of the plant and the artist producing an accompanying illustration.

Taxonomic illustrations are normally published in scientific journals as highly detailed black and white drawings (primarily pen and ink, more rarely pencil) or digitally rendered illustrations (excluding photos and photo-montage), representing aspects of plant morphology essential for identification.

The Margaret Flockton Award is unique in art awards in that it recognises and promotes scientific botanical illustration as opposed to botanical art.
With the above in mind, the evaluation of entries is based on the following criteria:

  • Accurate interpretation and portrayal of plant characters and diagnostic features noted in the botanical description
  • Technical merit
  • Reproducibility
  • Composition
  • Artistic merit

When considering these broad criteria, the following are also taken into account:

Precision and accuracy 
Correct botanical detail, all plant characters and diagnostic features must be accurately displayed.

The image must be capable of being successfully scanned and reproduced (often reduced) without loss of detail. Very dense (black) or light detail may not reproduce well. A major criterion of scientific illustration is that images should be clearly and simply reproduced through the printing process. Illustrations must be capable of being reduced to 67% of the original size without loss of detail.

Good composition 
The plate should be laid out to give a balanced presentation allowing the overall effect to be aesthetically pleasing. This balance is best demonstrated by the careful placement of the primary subject. In other cases, balance may be the result of careful placement of the dissected details of the plant.

Use of scale bars, whilst not mandatory, is preferred
Great care should be taken in giving the correct scale of each feature. If possible, avoid using multipliers eg. 'x3' or 'x0.5' to indicate the size of features, as this becomes meaningless if the drawing is used in a publication and printed at a different size; the use of a scale bar is accurate regardless of changes to the size of the image.

The signature should be neat, small and consistent, with the year noted.

For enquiries and further information

Lesley Elkan and Catherine Wardrop
The Margaret Flockton Award
c/- Illustration, National Herbarium of NSW
Australian Institute of Botanical Science
The Australian Botanic Garden
Locked Bag 6002, Mount Annan NSW 2567