The two new exhibitions at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art in Kew Gardens for the Spring and Summer opened on Saturday. This evening there is a Private View, which I'm attending.
The exhibitions are:
British Artists in the Shirley Sherwood Collection
This is one of the paintings in the exhibition. Many will recognise the image above as the one which features on the cover of Contemporary Botanical Artists - which was the very first book about the Shirley Sherwood Collection.
It's a painting of a blue water lily by Pandora Sellars who is a botanical artist much admired by Dr. Sherwood. Indeed the very first painting in her collection was by Pandora Sellars. She participated in many botanical art exhibitions and had a solo exhibition at Kew in 1990. She was also awarded the Jill Smythies Award for excellence in botanical illustration by the Linnean Society in 1992.
This particular painting exemplifies one of the main ways which Dr Sherwood supports botanical art. This painting is the result of a commission by Dr. Sherwood back in 1993, and was painted from specimens supplied by a tropical nursery and was completed in 1995. As is often the case with commissions, it's impossible to get the entire painting done in one season. In this case the blooms were done in one season and the leaves in the next. The design is particularly strong with the shape and form of the lily pads providing a backdrop for the flowers.
In the book it's referred to as Nymphea capensis although the title Kew has given me is Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea. Apparently they're synonyms as Cape blue water lily, Nymphaea capensis is no longer regarded as a distinct species and has been sunk into the Nymphaea nouchali genus.
Another work by Pandora Sellars in the exhibition is Pontederia cordata.
Other artists in the exhibition
The Shirley Sherwood Collection currently includes 330 works by 86 British botanical painters. The range of artwork within the collection enables an exploration of the changing style and approach of botanical artists, through experimentation with medium and scale over the years.
Other artists in the exhibition include:
This is the first of three posts with information from interviews with the nine RHS Gold Medallists at the London Botanical Art Show 2017.
I've been interviewing RHS Gold Medallists since 2011 and you'll find a list of previous interviews at the end of this post. This post covers five artists who won medals in 2017:
Upcoming posts will cover
Keiko Fujita GM (Japan - Tokyo)
Keiko Fujita GM lives in Tokyo, Japan. She's been a botanical artist for the last 19 years and prior to that was an interior designer. Her art career started by studying at art school and then her son started to study ecology at his junior high school. His homework involved botanical paintings and that's the point at which she became interested in botanical art. Subsequently she found an adult education night school which provided a class. She is a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists.
Her exhibit is about the Growth of Bamboo in Japan. She chose bamboo as it's a famous plant associated with Japan. Everybody knows about "Bamboo" (eg that it's very invasive) but nobody knows the different species!
She first had the idea for the exhibit seven years ago and started doing her research, finding plants and planning her exhibit. She finally started on the painting two years ago and each painting took about 3-4 months to do.
The paintings she produced:
Mariko Ikeda GM (Japan - Tochigi) - Winner of Best Exhibit 2017
Mariko Ikeda GM's Pandanus won Best Exhibit in Show and, unsurprisingly, it had lots of people looking at it and talking about for the duration of the show! (It's more commonly known as the screw pine).
Mariko took a botanical illustration class with Jenny Phillips in Sydney in 1999. Then studied Art and Design at University followed by a Ph.D in the Sciences of Art at the Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences at the University of Tsukuba. Recently she took a botanical illustration class with Mikeo Ishikawa in 2015.
She lives in Tochigi and has been a Botanical Art Instructor at the Gakushuin University Lifelong Learning Centre in Tokyo since 2006. She's a member of the Japanese Association of Botanical Illustration and the American Society of Botanical Artists. However she has not exhibited widely.
Last night I left Leafscape, the first solo exhibition of watercolour paintings of leaves by Jess Shepherd (aka JR Shepherd), at the Abbott & Holder Gallery in London with the knowledge that she had sold 19 of the 31 watercolour paintings of leaves in the exhibition.
You can see photos of some of the paintings in this review and you can see them all on the Leafscape page on Abbott and Holder's website. For the record:
The exhibition is on at Abbott & Holder, 30 Museum Street, London WC1A 1LH until 6pm Saturday 25th February 2017.
The story started when Jess was an Assistant Curator at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery at Kew and spent an entire summer in 2013 with The Colours Of Reality exhibition by Rory McEwen. Rory of course painted leaves towards the end of his life.
They proved to be a huge inspiration for a botanical artist who was already interested in and painting leaves. - I remember well the Monstera, the Broccoli, the Cos and the absolutely enormous 'Green Giant" coffee arabica plant!
Last year, I spent some time with Jess while she told me her plans for this major solo exhibition. I do very much remember trying to talk her out of planning to exhibit at the RHS Botanical Art Exhibition (next week) at the same time as she had this exhibition!
Over the last year I've watched as the project to develop the paintings for the exhibition gathered apace. Followed by the crowdfunding Kickstarter initiative to develop a properly printed book/catalogue for the exhibition.
In celebration of the Leafscape exhibition, I would really like to produce a limited edition, linen bound, hard-back book that presents all of the paintings and the environmental soundtrack of all the outside sounds from where each leaf was growing at the time it was found.
Her target was £8,500 which would allow the book to be published.
However, the Kickstarter was a roaring success, she got 439 backers who pledged £24,867 to help bring this project to life - and I was one of them! As a result the hard back copies of the book had sold out before the exhibition even opened!
She now has another Kickstarter going for a softback follow up of the book and the copies are limited to 500. 71 have already gone so click the pic below to go there if you're interested.
I talked to the Gallery Director last night about Jess and her Leafscape project and exhibition. He told me that they are very happy with the sales on the PV night but that these were not unexpected.
The reasons why they were very happy to back Jess and give her an exhibition were that:
Those of us who contributed to the crowdfunding for the book will be getting our books very soon as per our commitment.
I highly recommend that anybody coming to London next week for the RHS Botanical Art Show on Friday and Saturday also make an effort to travel across to Museum Street and see this exhibition. Let it kickstart your efforts towards a solo exhibition!
Look out for another blog post from me about Jessica Shepherd and how she got from behind the desk in the gallery at Kew to having a solo exhibition in a gallery in Museum Street opposite the British Museum.
This summer, Jess is going to be the artist in residence at River Cottage HQ during June and July. Lots more leaves to paint there!
When she finally gets to exhibit at the RHS, I just know it's going to be spectacular!
If you'd like to follow Jess in future ventures see:
I've now got all the names of those exhibiting at the RHS Botanical Art Show which will be held in the Lindley Hall in London later this month.
TODAY - I'm going to highlight the Trade Stands - which have introduced a few new names for me. Those teaching botanical art might like to note the numbers that relate to education and learning about botanical art.
TOMORROW - I'll be detailing the names of all the artists from all over the world who have been selected to exhibit at this years RHS Botanical Art Show in London. Some of them will be winning medals later this month!
There's details at the end of this post of dates, times and how to get there.
Botanical Art Societies
Both botanical art societies will be detailing what they have to offer for their membership fee and their different approaches to membership arrangements.
NEW South London Botanical Institute - Founded in 1910 in Tulse Hill, the South London Botanical Institute has a beautiful botanical garden and herbarium and runs a wide range of courses, workshops, school visits and events for all ages.
Education - tuition, diplomas and certificates
Those exhibiting with trade stands are split between individual tutors and organisations which offer taught Diplomas in Botanical Art.
The following are three Gold Medal winning botanical artists who are also botanical art tutors who have been teaching for many years. You can expect demonstrations and answers to questions you may have.
The following all offer a Diploma Courses in Botanical Art and will be able to show you what's involved and what they have to offer - plus (probably) artwork by students
For more about opportunities to learn more about botanical art see my Education section about tuition, courses, classes and workshops across the world
Various Arts and Crafts
Hannah McVicar - is a printmaker and illustrator who specialises in botanical screenprints. She also teaches courses in how to screenprint and will be demonstrating screenprinting live.
Rachel Dein - Rachel practices nature printing in concrete. She creates plaster cast tiles that record all the texture, pattern, and delicacy of plants and flowers
Save Me I'm Wild - this is about a concern for the loss of wild plant habitats. They produce Fine Art Prints and handmade cards
The Pressed Flower Guild - The Guild aims to raise the general standard of pressing flowers by enabling members to meet and share expertise and experiences.
Yateley Papers Ltd - will be offering block-printing taster sessions. Starting at 11am, classes are limited to 4 per session and on a first come first serve basis.
Maybe I'll see you there?
Location: RHS Lindley Hall, London SW1P 2QW (see map below)
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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!
Brigid Edwards has a new exhibition of her botanical art on vellum at Thomas Gibson Fine Art Gallery 39 St James Street, London Sw1A 1JD - until 16th December 2016.
This post is about the exhibition and her past works on vellum in terms of biography, working practice, exhibitions and a bibliography of where you can see her work published.
Exhibition: Brigid Edwards New Works on Vellum
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Katherine Tyrrell writes about botanical art and artists and has followers all over the world.
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