The "British Artists in the Shirley Sherwood Collection" exhibition at The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens finishes on 17th September 2017. If you haven't been to see it yet I strongly recommend you do so as it includes some iconic work by British Botanical Artists.
[NOTE: Since writing this post I've had the opportunity to review it with Shirley Sherwood personally and it has now been
I've now seen the exhibition four times and it might seem a bit odd to be doing a review so late in the day, except I've already written about it in:
Since I wrote these, the Gallery has also included British Artists in the Shirley Sherwood Collection.pdf (PDF)on the website - which I urge everybody to download as this is the ONLY formal record of this exhibition (there is no catalogue). It also includes thumbnails of all the paintings in the exhibition.
It has not been possible to hang more than a small proportion of ‘my’ British artists here as I now have 330 works by 86 painters and so I have had to be fiercely selective.
On my last visit I took my time and went round very slowly, looking at the artwork closely. I found that I began to detect themes within the collection which I had missed earlier.
In a way it's a story of a collection, a collector and the development of botanical art in the UK over more than a quarter of a century of collecting.
Hence this post is going to be something of a timeline or retrospective of the collection which started in 1990. It's by no means the story of the whole collection of British artists as this now includes 330 works by 86 painters.
There are three botanical artists in the exhibition who have an artwork on display which was acquired or commissioned in every decade to date. They are Brigid Edwards, Coral Guest and Rory McEwen - who are all members of the small group of what Dr Sherwood refers to as her 'core artists'.
This post is interspersed with comments from Dr Sherwood and listings of the artists whose work is featured in each decade.
In relation to dates:
Where an artist is exhibiting elsewhere in the UK currently or in near future and/or teaching I'm also sharing the information in this post.
All quotations are by Shirley Sherwood (from the pdf record of the exhibition) unless otherwise indicated.
WARNING - THIS IS A VERY LONG POST. I suggest you find a comfy place to sit now and if you like finding out about botanical art and artists then you may be some time reading it!
The First Decade 1990-1999
This post is about a BRAND NEW and very useful video comparing paper for botanical artists by professional artist and illustrator Lizzie Harper, who specialises in botanical, natural history and scientific illustration.
In the video, she tests samples (not sheets or blocks) of five different watercolour papers.
She made it as her contribution to the collective effort to find a new paper for botanical artists after the problems with Fabriano Artistico HP. There have been a number of problems with that paper experienced by many botanical artists have in recent times. Some artists have given up on waiting for Fabriano to find an answer...
The papers tested are:
I won't spoil the ending by telling you which two papers she says she'll be focusing on in future.
This article on her blog shows you close-ups of the papers and the results achieved.
I will add a note of caution and advice.
Of late artists have found that samples of some paper have not been the same as either sheets or blocks of paper they have subsequently bought from the same manufacturer. Canson Heritage is the latest to be "under the spotlight" on this score.
Hence if you'd like to repeat the test for yourself - because people work in different ways and what works for one person is not necessarily the best paper for somebody else - I suggest you
This video has been added in to my new page about Paper on my website. (I also have a page about Vellum)
My Paper Page is still a work in progress but it covers:
I'd love to see more videos of botanical artists testing different papers and the results you've achieved so I can share them with others via my page. It's a lot more permanent than sharing on Facebook!
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.
I'm getting a lot of enquiries from botanical artists as to what progress has been made with "the Fabriano Artistico story" and the major change in how the paper behaves.
Below you will find
Fabriano Artistico and Botanical Art - the story so far
Fabriano Artistico has been much favoured by botanical artists for very many years. For many years it has been a surface which stands up to the demands of those wanting to create very precise paintings of botanical specimens
Then something changed. You may not have read my previous posts on this topic.
Plus I did an update for the Society of Botanical Artists Winter Bulletin - an extract from which summarises what has happened since the meeting with Fabriano last summer.
Fabriano have done some trials since the meeting. To date they have been unsuccessful at identifying what needs to be different to produce the old surface. This means no prospect of a change back to the old surface in the near future.
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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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