After visiting the RHS London Botanical Art & Photography Show in Chelsea on Tuesday (of which more later), I walked down to Chelsea Barracks to see what I think might be the first display in London of all the paintings completed for the Highgrove Florilegium (Volumes 1 and 2) since 2009.
“The Highgrove Florilegium: Watercolours Depicting Plants Grown in The Garden at Highgrove” is only on until Sunday 26th September. It's also very easy to access for those visiting the Chelsea Show. The paintings are hung in the former Guards Chapel in the former Chelsea Barracks - now known as the Garrison Chapel - which is now owned by The Prince's Foundation Trust - hence the location of the exhibit.
I cannot recommend this exhibition too much. The quality of the paintings is excellent.
In fact, this is a much better exhibition of contemporary botanical art than the current RHS Botanical Art Show.
To my mind, it's also a much better exhibition than the original one twelve years ago, which was in a very small space in the Garden Museum at Lambeth Palace. (See my original review of the exhibition Exhibition Review: The Highgrove Florilegium at the Garden Museum (14th July 2009)
This time there's much more focus on the paintings and much less on the book - which is nowhere to be seen!
The big bonus of this exhibition is that the space is large and the paintings have been hung according to the different "rooms" of the garden where the subject plants were located. As such, it's a much better representation of the garden at Highgrove - which, of course, is what a florilegium is intended to do.
The paintings also look excellent on the green walls and they benefit from both natural light and additional lighting but both are up high so there's some reflection but not too much.
The Highgrove Florilegium is the first Royal Florilegium in the UK. It contains botanically accurate watercolour paintings of the plants grown in the garden of Highgrove near Tetbury in Gloucestershire - which has been the country home of the Prince of Wales since 1980.
What was particularly poignant for me was seeing the names of botanical artists who are no longer with us - like Jessica Tcherepnine (1938-2018) - who painted a beet; Jenny Jowett (2019) and Lizzie Sanders (1950 - 2020) - who painted an acer.
It was also great to paintings by those like Fay Ballard whose botanical paintings I rarely see these days.
Here's some more photos as an incentive to those who can to visit and see this exhibition.
For me, these paintings deserve more outings and to be seen more widely - as an incentive to others to do something similar. There are an awful lot of large gardens with a wide diversity of plants around the country which deserve to be properly recorded.
It's worth recording that the Highgrove Florilegium project was originally the idea of Anne-Marie Evans MA FLS, who founded, developed and taught the Diploma Course in Botanical Painting at the Chelsea Physic Garden.
Distinguished botanists worked with the Head Gardener at Highgrove, to ensure that the great garden developed by the Prince of Wales was represented in all its aspects by an appropriate selection of material, including plants that are useful or commonplace, rare and in decline, or just extravagantly beautiful. Work was submitted for selection to a rigorous panel of experts led by Anne-Marie Evans and the project was chaired by Professor David Cadman. The first volume was produced in time for the 60th Birthday of the Prince of Wales - and it now lies in full view in the Drawing Room at Clarence House, his home in London (I know - I've seen it!)
Walking back to Sloane Square would have finished my severely arthritic ankle off completely - even walking with a rollator as I was already way over my daily allowance of steps!
So I caught the special bus which goes directly from the Chelsea Flower Show to Victoria Station. This can be found outside the exit from the Chelsea Flower Show. I highly recommend this bus ride for all those who want to get home quicker and/or have problems with walking or their feet!
BAA Visitors so far....
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