Roger Swainston


Roger Anthony Swainston is an Australian painter. Naturalist and zoologist, he is one of the most recognized artists of the underwater world.

He was raised in the Western Australian outback surrounded by wildlife. The unique Australian flora and fauna fascinated and inspired him from an early age and he has drawn and painted it since childhood. In the late 70’s he travelled and worked around the north coast of Australia on fishing trawlers. The endless variety of undersea life he encountered in their nets encouraged him to undertake further studies and he graduated from the University of W.A. with a degree in Zoology in 1981. He then worked in the fish department of the WA Museum and took part in a variety of scientific expeditions. These included surveying the fish fauna of West Australia’s south coast with the WA Museum, the deepwater fauna off the northwest shelf with [CSIRO][1] and the reef fauna of Papua New Guinea with CRI. During this period he also illustrated numerous guidebooks on the identification of fish and other marine life and worked with scientific institutions around the world such as; the Smithsonian Institute, United Nations FAO, CSIRO and many other Museums and government departments concerned with the marine environment.

In 1990 he moved to France and spent several years working from a studio in Paris, where he further diversified and developed his work. Illustrations from this period are held by “Musee National des Arts et Traditions Populaires” and Ministry of the Environment and he is presently the official artist for the “Conseil Superieur de la Peche” in France. Whilst continuing to provide illustrations for a wide range of clients he began to work on methods of capturing the complexity of marine environments. This led to a documentary being made on Roger’s project, to draw underwater a reef in the Red Sea. Upon his return to Australia in 1996 he continued this work on marine environments. His focus became the integration of science and art in a manner, which fostered both an appreciation of the extraordinary beauty of the subject and an understanding of its diversity and complexity.

In 1999 he held successful solo exhibitions of his work in Sydney and Fremantle and has since held other successful exhibitions in France, USA and Australia. As a conservationist, Roger has supported ecological projects and research, he works closely with conservation organizations to help protect fishery resources and increase knowledge of marine life. In recent years Roger has continued this study of the marine environment with large scale underwater drawings and surveys of reef sites around the world. He has pursued scientific illustration with life size portraits of individual fish, intimate studies of their surface, form and function. He presently lives and works in Fremantle Western Australia with his partner Catherine and their three chlidren.