John J. Riley has always had a deep interest in anything to do with Australian natural history. He spent much of his working life as a shearer, and travelled extensively throughout outback Australia for work. He has built up an impressive collection of Australian fossils and minerals and has a keen interest in Aboriginal artefacts. John is a self-taught artist—he started by sketching native birds and animals from memory—and also has refined skills in gem cutting and lapidary, and carving scenes of Australian wildlife into emu eggs.
In the late 1970s, John began researching and drawing Australian native orchids—particularly the terrestrial species—with watercolour pencils. Each separate drawing takes between 18–24 hours to complete. In 1992, he was awarded a Fellowship by the Australian Institute of History and Arts in recognition of his carvings and botanical art-work,joining a select band who have achieved the pinnacle of their particular field without the benefits of formal training. Over the past decade John has been involved with conservation strategies in his role on the Executive of the Australasian Native Orchid Society, and supports many of its local groups.
The first of a planned series of four books, Orchids of Australia, Volume 1 by John J. Riley and David P. Banks was released in October 2002, being published by University of New South Wales Press.
Source: Extracted from: cover-flap, 'Orchids of Australia' by John J. Riley and David P. Banks (2002)
Portrait Photo: Extracted from: cover flap of 'Orchids of Australia' Volume 1 by John J. Riley and David P. Banks (2002)