I have a serious botanical art book addiction. There's nothing nicer than getting stuck into an hour or more of browsing through what's on offer from vintage booksellers with a good collection of botanical art books.
Well nothing nicer than the book you bought turning up and being so much better than you were expecting! There's something about books produced in the past which yells "quality" and if you've got a "very good" or "as new" version then I'm in heaven.
However what's better still is the fact that botanical art book owners tend to be very nice people - and they pass on extras in their books that they don't tell you about until you get them.
Which is how I come to be the owner of some seriously archival class documents about Mary Grierson (1912-2012) (who I currently have listed on the 20th Century Botanical Artists page on the website) when I purchased a copy of her book An English Florilegium
The image at the top of the page is of the exhibition catalogues for three solo exhibitions - which probably each deserve a blog post in their own right!
They are- from left to right:
Of late I've become seriously appreciative of catalogues from exhibitions of botanical art. They tell you so much about the scope and nature of the art but also details of the artist which often never reaches formal publication in a book. For the serious student of botanical art, I'd very much recommend paying serious attention to exhibition catalogues.
You might also like to think about you and your work are recorded in solo exhibitions - for posterity and future collectors!
About Mary Grierson (1912-2012)
Mary Grierson in brief:
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Note: Spink is Spink & Son Ltd who at the time were located at 5 King Street, St James's, London SW1Y 6QS. They are now located at 69 Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 4ET. However, the gallery which sold botanical art closed just after the turn of the millennium.
One very important aspect of botanical illustration is making a record of important heritage plants and trees.
This is the first in a series of posts I intend to write about important botanical paintings - or opportunities to paint plants to record an important event or a transformation.
Last month it became apparent that an important opportunity may exist in Scotland for those who might like to record an ancient tree that is apparently changing gender - from male to female. This October it grew three red berries!
The Fortingall Yew
The Fortingall Yew is an ancient heritage tree (Taxus baccata) of international importance. It's believed to be one of the oldest trees in Europe and is almost certainly the oldest tree in the UK.
It's estimated to be around 2,000 years old but could be as old as 5,000 years. It can't be aged on the basis of tree rings as the trunk has changed over time. The trunk was measured as being 56 feet by Thomas Pennent in 1769. However the centre has rotted and it has now split into several separate stems or offshoots.
The tree is rooted in Fortingall churchyard between Killin and Aberfeldy in Perthshire.
A tree that is changing sex
The reason the tree has been getting a lot of coverage across the world of late is that it's apparently changing sex!
An article Oldest Yew changes sex (23 October 2015) in the Botanic Stories blog of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh triggered the interest. As it indicates
....the Fortingall Yew is a male tree. Yews are normally either male or female and in autumn and winter sexing yews is generally easy. Males have small spherical structures that release clouds of pollen when they mature. Females hold bright red berries from autumn into winter. It was, therefore, quite a surprise to me to find a group of three ripe red berries on the Fortingal yew this October when the rest of the tree was clearly male.
Apparently gender morphing by yews and other conifers is not unheard of but tends to be associated with the crown - although there are a few species which routinely grow both male and female parts.
In this species gender change is rare. In this particular instance just one branch has decided to be female - and grow three bright red berries in October - while the rest of the tree continues to be a traditional male!
It'll be interesting to see what happens next Autumn and whether the berries appear again.
I suggest botanical artists form an orderly queue next October to paint it!
BBC | Berries show ancient Fortingall yew tree is 'changing sex' (2 November 2015)
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