Bernadette Drabsch

Catching up with Bernadette Drabsch, past scholarship winner

Not even the most advanced camera can capture the same intricacies of colour, depth and texture in a 500,000 year old hand axe, as Bernadette Drabsch.

Bernadette, a PhD student at the University of Newcastle and a past recipient of the Williams Scholarships in Classics, has travelled the world, where she has been researching and drawing rare and wonderful artefacts.

Bernadette, who is an archaeological illustrator, said that if it weren’t for the scholarships she received as an undergraduate, she would never be where she is today.

“I thought about quitting my studies a few times, but the scholarships gave me that extra boost in confidence to stay on. I really appreciate that.”

Originally a legal secretary, Bernadette then spent some years as a full time mother before enrolling in the University’s Open Foundation where she fell in love with art and ancient history.

As part of a trip to Pella in Jordan she was reconstructing ancient wall paintings through detailed pen drawings.

She has also ventured into the digital world, using programs that recreate the ancient site of Teleilat Ghassul, which is located near the Jordanian-Israeli border.

Her efforts in recording the artefacts could not be more timely, as many of the wall paintings are so fragile they will not last more than a few years. Other artefacts she has worked with include glass mosaics, ancient wineglasses, and buckets upon buckets of pot shards.

“My experiences have been wonderful. Our site in Pella was regularly visited by Jordanian royalty.

“The University of Newcastle provides most of the illustrators for the site, and we have had our work highly commended,” said Bernadette.

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