Fiona Strickland: Tulipa Exhibition opened last week at the Jonathan Cooper Gallery in Park Walk, Chelsea. Below you can find my review and images of the exhibition and what Fiona told me about her painting when we met up for lunch on Thursday last week. Plus more about Fiona and the presentation of the paintings at the end.
This is Fiona Strickland's second - and much awaited - solo exhibition after The Vital Moment in 2016. So much so that Botanical art collectors and lovers of heritage tulips had bought a number of her paintings before Tulipa opened!
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND botanical artists pay a visit. It's a rare exhibition of botanical artwork of a very high quality. I'm very sure that all those who work in vellum and all those who aspire to do must surely want to visit - because Fiona sets a benchmark which has been rarely equalled or exceeded. Besides - I also know a number of botanical artists, like me, are also botanical art collectors!
Do not forget your magnifier to see if you can spot her brush strokes!
You have until 26 September to visit the Exhibition (and must book a visiting time in advance due to social distancing requirements)
If you can't get to Chelsea you can either:
I went to see Tulipa on Thursday but met up with Fiona Strickland and her husband Robert McNeill for lunch in Chelsea beforehand. We had a wonderful catch-up since our last "chinwag" at the RHS Botanical Art Show in 2019 and I asked her about the exhibition.
This exhibition of stunning tulips should have been held in prime Tulip season back in Spring. However it was not to be. Like so many others, this exhibition was opening late - having, of course, been postponed due to the Pandemic.
It has been more than two years in the making - tulips only bloom in the spring!
The timescale was in part determined by Fiona's decision to paint some of the English Florists' tulips which are only available from the Wakefield and North of England Tulip Society - who have been showing them since 1836! This is the sole surviving Tulip Society in the UK - which grows heritage tulips (including English Florists' Tulip which are characterised by the flamed and feathered markings caused by Tulip Breaking Virus - which made them highly valued during Tulipomania). They also supplied Rory McEwen with tulips for his paintings. Indeed two of the tulip paintings in the show are of Tulipa ‘Rory McEwen’, a Bybloemen Flame tulip that was named in McEwen’s honour. One on Kelmscott Vellum and one on Rory McEwen Kelmscott bequeathed to her by the Hunt Institute where his vellum supplies now reside.
Like Rory McEwen before her, having learned of its work Strickland became a member, and was delighted to be gifted prize- winning tulips from its annual show to depict in her work. Carefully transporting them home in the brown beer bottles in which they are exhibited, after painting these perfect specimens Strickland could not bear to part with them, and has preserved their dried forms in her studio. Catalogue
There are eighteen watercolour paintings of tulips in this solo show - predominantly English Florists' Tulips - of which thirteen have now sold.
The Tulipa Exhibition by Fiona Strickland at the Jonathan Cooper Gallery in Chelsea opens on 2nd September (until 26 September 2020). However the exhibition has been published on his website and - as you can clearly see from the exhibits online (and the image below) - sales have already been made.
You can see from the website (and the catalogue) that Fiona's new paintings of tulips are all watercolour on Kelmscott Vellum and most are small to medium sized paintings - making them more affordable than her much larger paintings. "Affordable" in this context is very much defined by the fact she is one of the leading botanical artists in the world who is very popular with collectors. So if you're thinking of buying a painting by Fiona, I'd act sooner rather than later.
I should probably add at this point that some of my prized possessions are catalogues of past exhibitions by leading botanical artists. Many of these are now extremely difficult to buy and very expensive when you do. So my very strong recommendation if you're unable to get to see this exhibition in London is to buy a catalogue. You won't regret it.
Exhibition Title: Tulipa
Dates: 2-24 September 2020
Venue: Jonathan Cooper Gallery
Address: 20 Park Walk, London, SW10 0AQ
Hours: Gallery in currently open Monday - Saturday
(appointments encouraged - ring +44 (0) 207 351 0410)
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