The School of Botanical Art and Illustration (SBAI) at Denver Botanic Garden won an RHS Gold Medal for their exhibit of Rocky Mountains: Plants and Fungi at Altitude at the 2017 RHS London Botanical Art Show at the end of February
It's really difficult to win an RHS Gold Medal.
It's even more difficult if you are trying to win as a group - where every single artist has to achieve the GM standard. That's because Gold Medals are awarded on the basis of the weakest image in the portfolio and you can't afford to have any one artist not meet the mark.
That's by way of a preamble to explain why what the School of Botanical Illustration achieved was very significant.
Each of the images had a very detailed label and explanation about the plant including:
The images were then ordered (left to right) by elevation.
You can find/see:
The exhibit was made up of nine drawings and paintings by the core of teachers who regularly provide botanical art and illustration instruction at the Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration and two alumni They are:
Mervi Hjelmroos-Koski, the Manager of SBAI brought the exhibition to London and talked to me about what's involved in creating a group exhibit.
The aim of the exhibition was to show the quality of the School and the calibre of its instructors. The best way to do that was to go to somewhere completely neutral and see what they thought - and where better than the RHS Botanical Art Show!
The feedback she got about the exhibit was firstly that it was very rare to have a Gold Medal winning exhibit by a group. (I know I've seen a number which have done well - but fallen short of a Gold Medal).
In terms of queries from the public, everybody was very interested in the variety of media used eg the frosted mylar used for coloured pencil which gives the impression of vellum.
What it takes to produce a good group exhibit
We talked about what Mervi found essential to getting the exhibit together at a standard which made it possible for them to win Gold.
Today I've created two new pages on my website for in-depth book reviews of two books relevant to those who want to learn more about botany and the botanical illustrator - and highly recommended by me.
Both reviews were written some years ago shortly after the books were published - but the books haven't changed so nor has the value of the book reviews!
However it occurred to me that it would be much more helpful to those wanting to learn about how to draw plants - or develop their skills - if the book reviews were with the rest of the information I've compiled. So today I've moved them from my review blog to this website.
I'll also be moving more in-depth reviews between now and the end of the year.
The two books are as follows (click the links below the image to go to the dedicated page for each book and read the reviews)
Interestingly both books highlight the value of learning through studying the botanical illustrators of the past.
If you'd like to check out some of the best botanical illustrators and artists in history check out my section on Botanical Art History and in particular Past Masters of Botanical Art & Illustration (1500-1900)
Note: The links above go direct to the page which hosts the book review. The book reviews include associate links to Amazon. This site uses the pennies raised via book sales via those links to finance this website - which is not cheap to run.
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It was a delight to meet Christobel King and Gustavo Marigo at the recent Private View for the Brazil - a powerhouse of plants exhibition at Kew.
Gustavo is the current Margaret Mee Artist Scholar who started his studies at Kew Gardens in 2015. I was also present as Christobel introduced him to Álvaro Xavier Núñez who is one the best known of the contemporary Brazilian botanical artists
The Margaret Mee Artist Scholars
You can read about how the Fellowship Programme which was set up in her memory and how it came about:
Below is the list of names of all the Artist Scholars from Brazil to date who have been sponsored by the Margaret Mee Fellowship Programme.
It was fascinating to find out from Christobel that she spent three years learning the Portuguese language so she could be more effective in her teaching of the artist scholars from Brazil.
More recently , personal circumstances and the need for Christobel to have a break to write her book (see below) required a short break in the programme.
However the programme has now recommenced and the 2015 scholar is currently studying at Kew and a new one will be appointed for 2016.
You can also read more about what has happened to the various Margaret Mee Scholars from the past in my NEW Page about the botanical artists of South America.
The current exhibition also includes a gallery devoted to their work.
Christobel King and "The Kew Book of Botanical Illustration"
Anne-Marie Evans MA FLS has been awarded an MBE for her services to Botanical Art and Education in the New Year Honours List published today.
MBE means 'Member of the British Empire'. The medal is generally presented at a formal ceremony - usually at Buckingham Palace.
This is awarded for a significant achievement or outstanding service to the community. An MBE is also awarded for local ‘hands-on’ service which stands out as an example to other people.
Below you can find an account of her achievements, appointments and awards in the field of Botanial Art
The English Gardening School was the first school to offer a serious, structured botanical art course based on historical and scientific traditions. The original course was devised, introduced and taught by Anne-Marie Evans
The Chelsea School of Botanical Art
Katherine Tyrrell writes about botanical art and artists and has followers all over the world.
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