The School of Botanical Art and Illustration (SBAI) at Denver Botanic Garden won an RHS Gold Medal for their exhibit of Rocky Mountains: Plants and Fungi at Altitude at the 2017 RHS London Botanical Art Show at the end of February
It's really difficult to win an RHS Gold Medal.
It's even more difficult if you are trying to win as a group - where every single artist has to achieve the GM standard. That's because Gold Medals are awarded on the basis of the weakest image in the portfolio and you can't afford to have any one artist not meet the mark.
That's by way of a preamble to explain why what the School of Botanical Illustration achieved was very significant.
Each of the images had a very detailed label and explanation about the plant including:
The images were then ordered (left to right) by elevation.
You can find/see:
The exhibit was made up of nine drawings and paintings by the core of teachers who regularly provide botanical art and illustration instruction at the Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration and two alumni They are:
Mervi Hjelmroos-Koski, the Manager of SBAI brought the exhibition to London and talked to me about what's involved in creating a group exhibit.
The aim of the exhibition was to show the quality of the School and the calibre of its instructors. The best way to do that was to go to somewhere completely neutral and see what they thought - and where better than the RHS Botanical Art Show!
The feedback she got about the exhibit was firstly that it was very rare to have a Gold Medal winning exhibit by a group. (I know I've seen a number which have done well - but fallen short of a Gold Medal).
In terms of queries from the public, everybody was very interested in the variety of media used eg the frosted mylar used for coloured pencil which gives the impression of vellum.
What it takes to produce a good group exhibit
We talked about what Mervi found essential to getting the exhibit together at a standard which made it possible for them to win Gold.
The aspects related to the SBAI included:
The exhibit itself was well planned and thought through from the very beginning
In terms of project management:
In summary, I thought the exhibit was excellent. It addressed all the issues which all good exhibits need to consider and resolve. It was also well thought through, well planned and well executed. (More on the tips from this exhibition in my upcoming Tips post)
To my mind it's also one of the most brilliant marketing exercises that I've ever seen a botanical art school pursue. This one is going to set a benchmark for other stalwarts of the botanical art education field.
It's just a pity there's only one Gold Medal on its way to Denver later this year!
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About the School of Botanical Art and Illustration
The SBAI has a very strong online presence. I've always highly rated it as being one of the more "switched on to online" organisations delivering botanical art education. I've been following them for YEARS!
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More about the RHS Botanical Art Show 2017
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