The Author – Katrina van Grouw
Katrina van Grouw (formerly Katrina Cook) has been a self-employed fine artist since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1992 where she gained an MA in Natural History Illustration for an illustrated thesis on bird anatomy for artists. Continuing this research to ultimately produce The Unfeathered Bird has been her lifelong ambition.
In her personal, more expressive, artwork, she’s particularly inspired by geological formations and seabird colonies. You can see some of Katrina’s large seascape drawings here. She also illustrates books by other authors; most recently Bird Sense, by Tim Birkhead.
Although she has had no formal scientific training, Katrina’s ornithological knowledge, including skills as a specimen preparator and taxidermist, gained her a curatorial position in the bird skin collections at London’s Natural History Museum, based at Tring in Hertfordshire. She remained in this post for seven years before leaving in 2010 to concentrate on completing The Unfeathered Bird. Katrina is also a qualified bird bander and has travelled widely on international bird banding expeditions in Africa and South America.
An enthusiast of historical illustrated natural history books and an expert on traditional printing techniques, you can see some of Katrina’s original drypoint engravings here. And here’s a short film of her in action, engraving and printing a copper plate. This film was made for the Natural History Museum’s Images of Nature Gallery. Katrina regularly undertakes consultancy work for libraries and publishers and has written a book on the history of bird art, Birds, for Quercus books in 2007, due to be re-released shortly. She also writes regular articles for bird and bird art magazines about various aspects of bird art – contemporary and historical.
Katrina lives in Buckinghamshire, England, and spends her free time walking on the chalk downs with her dog, Feather. She’s keen to someday publish a book of the tiny landscape drawings and drypoints she’s produced there.
But meanwhile she’s already begun work on her next book of anatomical drawings, also to be published by Princeton: Unnatural Selection will focus on the skeletal structure of domesticated animals.