Just to confirm - the dates for this year's RHS Botanical Art & Photography Show are Friday 17th and Saturday 18th April 2020 - with a preview evening on Thursday 18th.
I've been in touch with the RHS (in the light of announcements yesterday by the Chief Medical Officer about moving into the "Delay" Phase in the next 10-14 days) and the current official RHS position is that:
I will be highlighting the artists participating in this year's show in the near future - just as soon as that listing has been finalised.
For what it's worth, my personal view is that if the RHS do decide it is necessary to cancel this Show in April, the worst case scenario will be that will only be postponed and will then be held at a later date in 2020.
Every year the RHS Photographic Competition has a special category for the Portfolio Exhibit - which replaces what used to be known as the Botanical Photography Show (i.e. the photographic counterpart of the Botanical Art Show)
This is the only RHS competitive exhibition for photographers which is eligible for RHS Medals.
I'm very much hoping for a higher standard than last year. In my view, the 2018 exhibition included some very weak exhibits as well as some excellent (see above) exhibits when compared to the medal winners in previous exhibitions. There were also some really awful problems with reflections due to the strong sunlight and glass roof - and no exhibitor should assume a neutral and shadowless north light!
This exhibit should in my opinion be UNIQUE and should NEVER ever be mistaken for a landscape photography nor a still life 'arty farty' photography competition.
It's entirely possible that the change in the quality of the exhibits on display changed because of a change in the method of selecting exhibitors. The inconsistency between the Art and the Photography Exhibitions makes absolutely no sense to me since the value of all the Medals awarded should always be equivalent. That suggests to me that process and criteria - and application of same - should be very similar too.
For the 2019 Exhibition Selections Process
In my opinion, to be a proper RHS Portfolio Photography exhibition - which equals the current standard of the Botanical Art Show - and, at the same time, is distinctively different from the other categories within RHS Photographic Exhibition, it needs to be VERY firmly located in "botanical" or "horticultural". Pretty or clever or "mood" or "I love nature" photos alone do not cut it. What is important is that the exhibit includes:
Art over horticultural or botanical content simply does not make the grade for me. There are LOTS of other photographic competitions for those types of photos. However there is only one RHS Show and medals!
I'll be very interested to see what gets exhibited. I'm currently not optimistic that the current selection process is doing a good job. If there is not a big improvement in the standard of exhibit in 2019, then I may well stop covering it.
Katherine Tyrrell writes about botanical art and artists and has followers all over the world.
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