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Douglas Frew Waterhouse
, 2003

by Robyn Stacey

lenticular photograph (sheet: 123.5 cm x 92.8 cm)

Douglas Frew Waterhouse AO CMG (1916–2000), entomologist, identified the active ingredients for the insect repellent later marketed as Aerogard. As head of the Entomology division of CSIRO from 1960 to 1981, he championed the use of the dung beetle for biological control of bush flies. He was the driving force behind the Australian National Insect Collection, the Stored Grain Research Laboratory and the use of nematodes and synthetic sex pheromones for controlling insect pests. Over the course of his career he oversaw a number of valuable pest management projects in Papua New Guinea, Asia and the Pacific. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Australian Academy of Science and the recipient of numerous awards and medals.

Robyn Stacey (b. 1952) was one of the first photographers in Australia to use a computer to generate and enhance images. Since the mid- 1980s she has developed a body of large, highly coloured manipulated works in series, including Blue Narcissus, The Infinity Gardens and All the Sounds of Fear. Her 2001 series Hot House, including works made through a newly-patented lenticular process, resulted from her artist-in-residency in the Herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. The portrait of Waterhouse is a lenticular print, on which a microscopically corrugated surface causes the image to ‘move’ as the viewer changes position around the work. Around and across Waterhouse the artist placed emblems of his work and his interests, not only a scuttling dung beetle and a dancing cloud of butterflies, but a fish, referring to the scientist’s unusual hobby of making ‘fish prints’ in the traditional Japanese manner. The lenticular print seems an especially apposite medium for depicting insects; as Stacey observes, ‘the image literally appears to develop itself … the image itself becomes a metamorphosis’.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Commissioned with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2003
Accession number: 2003.14