J.R. Shepherd had an extremely successful solo exhibition called Leafscape at Abbott & Holder in Bloomsbury, London in February 2017.
I asked Jess for an interview because I wanted to try and convey the pathway to a virtually sold out exhibition in central London, how it all happened and everything that led up to it.
This is a very long read - but reading it will hopefully be very helpful for all those who aim to become a professional botanical artist and have a sell-out solo show!
I met with Jess (as I know her) after the exhibition closed - but before it was taken down - for an interview (see below)
You can see my video of the exhibition below. It's a slow pan round the two rooms at the top of Abbott and Holder where the exhibition was held. You can see Jess in the video. All wobbles and creaks are down to my handheld videoing technique.
Note the red spots!
The Leafscape project
The reason I asked for the interview is that I was enormously intrigued by the fact that this wasn’t just an exhibition. It was an exhibition with a lot of added extras.
Leafscape was an absolutely HUGE project that Jess managed on her own. She had to:
Moreover it was also very successful i.e.
I was so overwhelmed after hearing about how far some of your had travelled to see the leaves. I had visitors from New Zealand, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, America and Australia. Some of you had driven miles in the storms, all the way from Scotland. It was utterly amazing seeing everyone in such a short space of time and to be able to listen to your stories and talk about botanical art and where it is going. I was visited by the second year students who are studying at the Chelsea School of Botanical Art and gave them a quick talk and then RHS weekend was a real buzz. I was lucky enough to see Rory's daughter, Samantha McEwen and eminent artists such as Rob Kesseler, Martin Sexton and Boyd and Evans and then Rachel de Thame popped with her daughter. Talk about a thrilling experience!
So who is this person who achieved so much - and how did it all happen?
I have a serious botanical art book addiction. There's nothing nicer than getting stuck into an hour or more of browsing through what's on offer from vintage booksellers with a good collection of botanical art books.
Well nothing nicer than the book you bought turning up and being so much better than you were expecting! There's something about books produced in the past which yells "quality" and if you've got a "very good" or "as new" version then I'm in heaven.
However what's better still is the fact that botanical art book owners tend to be very nice people - and they pass on extras in their books that they don't tell you about until you get them.
Which is how I come to be the owner of some seriously archival class documents about Mary Grierson (1912-2012) (who I currently have listed on the 20th Century Botanical Artists page on the website) when I purchased a copy of her book An English Florilegium
The image at the top of the page is of the exhibition catalogues for three solo exhibitions - which probably each deserve a blog post in their own right!
They are- from left to right:
Of late I've become seriously appreciative of catalogues from exhibitions of botanical art. They tell you so much about the scope and nature of the art but also details of the artist which often never reaches formal publication in a book. For the serious student of botanical art, I'd very much recommend paying serious attention to exhibition catalogues.
You might also like to think about you and your work are recorded in solo exhibitions - for posterity and future collectors!
About Mary Grierson (1912-2012)
Mary Grierson in brief:
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Note: Spink is Spink & Son Ltd who at the time were located at 5 King Street, St James's, London SW1Y 6QS. They are now located at 69 Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 4ET. However, the gallery which sold botanical art closed just after the turn of the millennium.
Celebrating a renovated Garden Museum
Tradescants’ Orchard: A Celebration of Botanical Art will be the first exhibition in the brand new exhibition space in the renovated Garden Museum (which has been closed for a major redevelopment in the past year).
The garden at the Museum re-opens on 22nd May. However the opening date for the exhibition is still not confirmed - but will be on display at between late May and September (opening date to be finalised)
The Tradescants' Orchard is a contemporary exhibition comprising watercolours by fifty eminent botanical artists is to be staged alongside a display of ‘The Tradescants’ Orchard’, a seventeenth-century volume of sixty-six watercolours depicting fruit varieties that John Tradescant and his son might have grown in their market garden at Lambeth.
Hence, the exhibition has two parts:
The Tradescants' Orchard
The Tradescants' Orchard is a practical document that records the size, colour and texture of fruit with their ripening dates.
The BISCOT organisers will be responsible ONLY for ensuring that the articles are collected by, or in exceptional circumstances, delivered locally to the courier/carrier.
- Exhibits attracting a higher award tend to be given to exhibits illustrating a particular theme OF plant family
Katherine Tyrrell writes about botanical art and artists and has followers all over the world.
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