Claire Banks

Colour portrait photograph of Claire Banks, researcher and TAHG member

Claire Banks

Research Student

History of Art, University of Glasgow; History of Art, University of Edinburgh; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Current Projects

Claire’s research was inspired by the Indian art collection in the archive of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. This work is supported by a Collaborative Doctoral Award from the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH).

The focus of this research is on natural history drawings made by Indian artists who were commissioned by Dr. Francis Buchanan-Hamilton (1762 – 1829), an Edinburgh trained doctor and naturalist who served in the Bengal Medical Service of the British East India Company from 1794 until 1815. These drawings gave many Europeans their first sight of exotic species.

One component of Claire’s work will be technical examination of the drawings to discover the processes involved in their making, and the methods and materials used. This will allow a fuller understanding of the Indian artists’ contribution to the construction of European scientific knowledge and its dissemination in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

As part of the dissemination process, these drawings often exist as handmade copies, and Claire’s research will also look to establish connections between collections of these works in institutions in the UK and India as well as provide vital information to help conserve these culturally significant heritage works on paper.


Claire has worked since 2009 with the science team at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RGBE) as a scientific illustrator on diverse projects to create visual records of species from over twenty five different plant families. These drawings have been published in many botanical journals, identification keys and Floras, notably the Flora of Nepal. In 2015, Claire was awarded the Jill Smythies Medal for published botanical illustrations by the Linnean Society of London. In addition to her work as an illustrator, Claire also enjoys roles at RBGE as an educator and researcher, including teaching modules of the Botanical Illustration Diploma.

Useful Links

For more details, please check out Claire’s university homepage and project introduction video.