Blandowski and other archives like his are the subject of a 12 year research project conducted by Khadija Carroll La at Cambridge University as a Newton Fellow in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. MAA
As the first government zoologist in Australia Blandowski researched taxonomic terms using the indigenous names for the flora and fauna that he collected. Blandowski is unique because his drawings shift from zoology and botany to an interest in recording the structure of indigenous cultural practices. His extensive set of detailed field drawings during collecting expeditions support his early form of activism in support of his Australian informants.
Gustav Muetzel, an established illustrator of animals in Berlin, then transformed Wilhelm von Blandowski’s field sketches from Australia, which were then rephotographed to make the 142 photographic images in this album. Blandowski’s biography reveals a person who embodies the complexities of his time. At once troubled humanist and Romantic explorer Blandowski portrays himself within his encyclopedic drawings as a colonial hero. He began his career in the Prussian armed forces and then studied Humboldtian science before traveling from Germany to South Australia in 1848. Blandowski returned to Europe in 1859 to find a publisher for his encyclopedic album of drawings. This Humboldtian project and Blandowski’s subsequent career as photographer in Gleiwitz failed when he died aged 56 in a psychiatric asylum in Bunzlau (now Boleslawiec, Poland).