Bryan Poole has died age 69. He was one of those very rare people in the world of botanical art - a very fine printmaker and a renowned creator of contemporary aquatint etchings featuring botanical plants. He was a perennial and popular exhibitor of his prints at the RHS Chelsea Show.
Below you can find an appreciation of his timeline and records of his background, career development, techniques used to produce his fine art prints, exhibitions, awards, commissions and collections.
Born in New Zealand on 2nd December 1953, he passed away on 19th December 2022, just after his 69th birthday, at his London home after a long battle with cancer. (See Death Notice at the end of this post)
It's been announced that a Memorial Service is planned to celebrate his life and achievements.
"Bryan Poole follows in a long line of fine botanical illustrators. Unusually, he has the gift to be able to combine traditional methods of illustration and reproduction with a very modern approach to botanical art and design. His appealing and distinctive work adds hugely to the wide range of talent found amongst botanical artists today."
Despite his New Zealand heritage, after graduating in Politics and Economics at the University of Otago and with absolutely no training in art, Bryan came to London in the early 1980s and became a freelance botanical illustrator and printmaker in 1981. Latterly he lived in Hackney in East London where he had his print studio in a converted air raid shelter
When he came to London, he trained and worked (1980-1986) in the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, under Dr Christopher Grey-Wilson, former editor of The Kew Magazine.
Subsequently he worked on commissions with a number of different people and bodies - including Dr John Kress, a botanist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington.
He produced his contemporary botanical aquatint etchings using copperplates and the painstaking and meticulous intaglio ("in the cut") technique developed in Europe in the 16th century and "spit bite" aquatint techniques (see Techniques below for an explanation of how he did this).
"I lived my life, independently, overseas and sang my own song . . . It is not that I've neglected New Zealand in any shape, way or form but it is just that I can make a living in London. I could never have done international work, gone to Dominican Republic, met (Smithsonian botanist and curator) John Kress, gone to Nepal . . . I am in the centre of things in London."
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