Wild Women: The Scott Sisters

It’s no secret that Southern Wild Co revels in all things vintage. Recently we launched our new 100% natural beeswax range and as always, we approached the design of our packaging with the same consideration and creativity as the rest of our range, touching on history, nature and a little bit of nostalgia to truly reflect the things we love.

Each batch of candles has been carefully wrapped in beautiful waxed paper showcasing the botanical work of sisters Helena and Harriet Scott. In the latter half of the 19th century, female colonial artists, sisters Helena and Harriet were Sydney’s leading natural history illustrators.

Harriet Scott
Helena Scott 1832Ash Island (A.W. Scott)
From top: Harriet Scott, Helena Forde (nee Scott), an engraving of Ash Island.


Born in the Rocks in Sydney, they moved with their family to Ash Island in the Hunter River as teenagers. The move away from the city brought a freedom that enabled the sisters to develop their talents. They were schooled in the techniques of natural history by their father, also an accomplished artist, who passed on his passion for botany and entomology. He taught them skills in observation, collecting, and recording.

Being women, they were never formally trained, and they constantly felt the hindrance of social constraints placed on them as women. This vexed Harriet and, in a letter to her friend Edward Ramsay in 1965, she laments the fact that she was denied a university education on the basis of her gender. She writes: “I wish I were in your place, for, do you see, that would show I was a man instead of a woman, of all things I want to be, and getting what I always thought would be so nice, to have a university education.” She goes on to say, "Clearly I ought to have been Harry Scott instead of Hattie Scott.” We can really sense her frustration!

Clearly I ought to have been Harry Scott instead of Hattie Scott.
–– Harriet Scott

We've gathered some of our favourites from the talented Scott family below. You can also learn more here at the Australian Museum which purchased their collection for 200 pounds in 1884. The collection serves as an important historical resource and also illustrates the fascinating story of these two impressive female naturalists and their artistic achievements.

Foxgloves : Ash Island : Helena Scott 1854
Birds eggs (one is a lithograph).
[Botanical drawings of mainly Australian plants], ca. 1852-1896 : by Helena FordeHelena_Scott_ Plate from James Charles Cox's Monograph of Australian Land ShellsFoxgloves Ash Island Helena Scott 1854

 You can purchase Southern Wild Co’s new beeswax range here.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published