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.
This post is about who won which medal at the RHS London Botanical Art Show 2017. I've previously covered the Best Exhibit and Best Painting in RHS Botanical Art 2017 in my last post.
I'll also be writing posts in the coming days for:
How medals are assessed
The RHS included a useful exhibit of how the artwork for the exhibition is assessed. You can find a more detailed explanation in the Guidelines for the exhibition.
Candidates who have been approved to exhibit must submit at least six works - preferably on a theme. You get extra marks if you illustrate a plant family.
Key points are:
RHS Gold Medal
This is probably the biggest challenge and the most difficult award to win for any botanical painter.
There were nine Gold Medals in total. There may well have been more but unfortunately two previous Gold Medal winners had to pull out very late due to the serious ill-health of close family members. I'm sure that both Sansanee and Sue will be back next year and I send my very best wishes to both them and their families.
Below are the botanical artists who won Gold Medals for their botanical art exhibits. It's worth remembering that assessment is based on the weakest painting on show so the entire exhibit of a minimum of six drawings or paintings has to be top-notch to get a Gold Medal.
Some however have a talent for winning Gold Medals - and watch out for my comments below.
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RHS Silver Gilt Medal
These are people who have missed out on a Gold Medal for a particular reason.
This can be to do with presentation - including labelling (eg one year it was getting the latin name wrong), botany, accuracy, content of exhibit, colours and the general avoidance of any areas of confusion.
The artists - and exhibits - are:
RHS Silver Medal
RHS Bronze Medal
All exhibits were awarded a medal.
Posts about the RHS Botanical Art Show 2017 to date are as follows:
First I have to apologise to five RHS Botanical Art Gold Medal Winners from last year:
Mea culpa. My only excuse is that I've never before had to do 13 interviews one after the other and then write them all up - besides extracting all their top tips! Then do the blog posts and the website updates.
I guess I'm not surprised I forgot something but I am very sorry it was this blog post.
The good news is that it is now published. My red exhibition/interview book gave up all that was required of it and my braincells remembered more bits as I finished it off! (If you see a woman clutching a red Moleskine at the RHS Botanical Art Show this week it's probably me!)
See Interviews with RHS Botanical Art Gold Medallists - from the UK and Europe
There is more good news (for me).
Yesterday this website exceeded 4,000 pageviews on one day for the first time. Google seems to a big fan of this website and traffic in 2016 has been very good (see chart). After nearly two years, Botanical Art and Artists is now approaching two-thirds of what Making A Mark gets after 11 years of blogging!
Given that this website is now well and truly established - and doing rather well in the comparative rankings of botanical art websites - in future I will be moving virtually all botanical art blog posts to the news blog on this site.
I've been sent some more photos of BISCOT by Hazel Morris which I thought people might like to see.
They include a proper view of the complete exhibit by Sarah Roberts which indicates the botanically complete nature of her paintings - from roots to leaves, flowers, fruits and seedpods and dissected parts of the same. They look very impressive and I'm not at all surprised this exhibit won a Gold Medal.
You can now also see this set of BISCOT botanical illustrations on her website if you'd like to study them some more. They include:
One of the other things which is particularly noteworthy is that the complexity of the life cycle content is beautifully designed on the page so that the eye travels around the page and isn't jumping around from isolated item to another item.
It's always worth thinking about how to make connections between all the part of the pictorial image on the picture plane within the four lines which provide the boundaries for the design.
I think we could all raise a glass to Sarah on a job well done! (Sarah also has a blog at Sarah Roberts)
Plus this is a view a view of part of the Silver Gilt exhibit of Hellebores by Margaret Walty
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Katherine Tyrrell writes about botanical art and artists and has followers all over the world.
© Katherine Tyrrell 2015-17
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