I visited the botanical art exhibition of New Works on Vellum by Brigid Edwards at at Thomas Gibson Fine Art Gallery on Wednesday this week. I gather that the gallery has had had rather a lot of visitors to the exhibition. Possibly a few prompted by my previous post? (see New Works on Vellum by Brigid Edwards)
The exhibition closes today so for all those of you who have not had a chance to take a look at her botanical and natural history paintings in watercolour you can get a taster from my photos of what the works looked like framed and hung in the gallery in the slideshow below.
This is the cover of the catalogue - and the cover image is the first work you see as you enter the gallery.
The exhibition was extremely well hung in terms of theme, shape and colour. Like a good painting I kept noticing an undercurrent of themes of things that interest the artist and more and more repetition of aspects of the paintings which helped to unify the whole.
You can see all her 2016 works on display on Brigid Edwards website - under New Paintings from which you can see that there were:
All works - as the title suggests - are on vellum. Interestingly the vellum looked as if it had been gessoed by hand. Some of it didn't look like Kelmscott at all (I could see brushmarks) and the underlying veination was a little obvious to anybody looking closely - although not at all apparent at a distance. I was left wondering whether she prepared her own vellum with gesso prior to painting.
The works as you can see from the gallery shot are a medium size with the subject matter being framed so it's isolated within the frame with a good margin - but not like the works completed by Rory McEwen who was apt to leave his subjects on vellum very isolated on whole sheets.
She works like a miniature artist and uses lots of tiny strokes which are now just a little more obvious than they were in her earlier paintings. I don't think this is the best work of hers that I've seen. There again she is now 76 years old and I'm comparing these paintings to ones done maybe 15-20 years ago when she was at her peak! (She didn't start to produce botanical paintings until she was in her 40s). That said - this is based on using a loupe and staring at them close-up. From a normal viewing distance the works still looks great.
One of the things I've always liked about her art is her ability to provide a new insight into an object you thought you already knew. For me this time the coral was the big surprise.
She continues to focus on structure at a macro and micro level and to display an ability to choose a good subject and develop an appropriate composition which highlights the structural aspects. Plus she also chooses to do subjects that few others would paint - such as the Ridge Gourds, the Chimoya and the Coral.
I learned a few things. For example, that she was able to develop the fine structures in her paintings with the use initially of an electron microscope and latterly a high resolution scanner. (I read that and looked up across the room at the celeriac - and wondered how that worked!). She also used the scanner to work out arrangements of her subject material on a page. (That's the same as using a camera without the distortion introduced when you don't hold the camera dead level and at precisely 90 degrees to the subject!)
There's an article about Brigid Edwards and her art in the January 2017 edition of The Oldie. The author, Ian Dunlop, is the chap who wrote the introduction to the exhibition catalogue. Definitely worth a read!
Her works straddles the world of natural sciences and the world of art. It's based on good science and it comes across as great art
Thomas Gibson Fine Art Ltd.
I have to say I've rarely come across a gallery which has such excellent presentation for works with glazing - there were no reflections!
I think the paintings were covered by museum glass as there was no reflections - plus the windows were covered in white blinds so no dazzling sunlight could penetrate and the spot lighting was excellent..
On top of all that it's in the centre of the area of some top quality galleries - between St James and Cork Street and just across the road from the RA at Burlington House. It's in a perfect position for fine art collectors! (the address is 39 St James Street, London Sw1A 1JD.
There's just one teeny, tiny problem - and that's getting in. Security door at street level with no obvious indication of which button to press. Then two more security doors outside the Gallery. Go with the telephone number in your phone!
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Katherine Tyrrell writes about botanical art and artists and has followers all over the world.
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