Sunday, 9 February 2014

Botanical Art in the 21st Century is now open

Gallery 6 in The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art

The Main Gallery in The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art
Botanical Art in the 21st Century is a celebration of the worldwide renaissance in botanical art today. The exhibition features some recently acquired works in the Shirley Sherwood Collection and demonstrates both traditional and new techniques in painting and drawing. From the show, we get to see very clearly how artists are ever changing the way they approach their subjects, from painting styles to compositional alterations. There are several very large pieces in the main gallery and there is a wide array of media. The diversity present in the gallery spaces is quite surprising and spectacularly interesting. If you want to read more about the story of this exhibition, then I can strongly recommend a visit to Coral Guest's blog. She has two of her stunning works on display and has eloquently written about the content of this exhibition.

Angela Maria Russo's Musa sp
I, myself, have several personal favourites in the show, some of which I have mentioned before when they've been shown in previous exhibitions, such as with Coral Guest's work, but there are some new ones that I have rather taken a fancy to. 

Annie Hughes' Camellia japonica 'Elegance Champagne'
'Zucca' by Marzio Tamer went a little viral with the online botanical art groups after Galleria Salmon posted a picture of it on it's facebook page. It is an amazing painting, so atmospheric and calming. I think Rory McEwen would have liked it as it has that ethereal and delicate quality - it's a moment captured in time.  Marzio's piece has rather sweetly been put in it's own show case as the frame has no glazing, so it's a bit vulnerable.

My other favourites are Annie Hughes' massive Camellia japonica 'Elegance Champagne' flower, which I like for it's technical achievements. I personally find it very hard to paint white flowers, let alone one this big, with this many petals using a wet on wet technique - it's sheer brilliance. On a technical achievement level I also find Kimiyo Maruyama's Pinuns palustris rather mind boggling. How on earth have all those needles been painted?!

A close up on Kimiyo Maruyama's Pinus palustris
Dasha Formicheva's triptych of Biarum angustatum inflorescences
Phansakdi Chakkaphak, Tree Jasmine

Diana McElwain, Prayer Plant

I like the bold composition of Angela Maria Russo's Musa sp. (top of page) and the way Phansakdi Chakkaphak has captured the bright sunlight in his Tree Jasmine. I am also rather taken with Dasha Formicheva's triptych of Biarum angustatum inflorescences. They seem to dance around the page and have been painted with an admirable looseness which is rather lovely to see in contrast to the tighter and more precise around the gallery, such as ... which I adore! Lastly, I love the green's in Diana McElwain's Prayer Plant leaves, because I do like a bit of green and Catherine Nicolson's large pen and ink drawings because I love all pen and ink work.

As you make your way round Botanical Art in the 21st Century you'll probably soon see that the show is a modification of an exhibition that was mounted in Pisa last year, in the Museo della Grafica. This show was curated by Professor Lucia Tomasi Tongiorgi and Professor Alessandro Tosi and was called Botanical Art into the Third Millennium and came with a catalogue that was in English and Italian. Dr. Sherwood has included a selection of Italian works, some of which were painted specially for the Pisa show.

Gionata Alfiera's beautiful 
'Studio di tepali di Hippeastrum'

Catherine Nicolson's fabulous large pen and ink works

Anyway, if you are in the area do pop in, it's well worth it, and of course we have Barbara Oozeerally's beautiful Magnolia's on show too!

Close up of Gionata Alfiera's 
'Studio di tepali di Hippeastrum'


  1. Thanks so much for posting this Jess - although so far away it's a good taste of what would be represented - the Pinus is incredible, so much work and the Hippeastrum so rich and glorious.
    It must be nice to see these exhibitions set up and to take the time to view without crowds around - at least I can do so here.
    One day I will get there!

    1. I am really glad that you enjoyed reading this post. You are one of my main reasons for posting you know?! I feel that it is sad that so many people all over the world can't make some of our exhibitions and that they would dearly love to see it if they could. This little post is for our distant fans! The Hippeastrum is amazing - so deep and sensual. It's been in done in tempera, which would definitely help in achieving that richness. I would love to have a go at painting in tempera.

  2. Jess, your beautifully chosen examples of the work on show, as well as the entire room views, all add up to such a comprehensive report.

    The work is hung so well. It cant be easy to display so many works of such vastly differing sizes in one room. The colour theming approach, such as all greens in one area, works so well, as does the general colour balance of the whole exhibition. All in all, its such a lovely arrangement. In addition, the labelling is so succinct and informative.

    I popped in at the weekend to view the show, but sadly missed you. It was such a pleasure to see the visitors reading the information, comparing works, and looking delighted and enthralled by the whole experience.

    1. I am so glad that you enjoyed the show Coral and am sorry that I missed you. I was in taking a break in Oxford - my monthly weekend off! Thank you for your kind comments about the show, I will pass on your feedback to Laura. It was a very tricky show to hang. The big paintings are very difficult because you have to have a support underneath them as well as the mirror plates and it's often a case of not having enough hands (spirit level, holding painting, pencil, drill, tape measure etc). It's a juggle! Anyway - we got there. We did have to re hang one of them though because it wasn't straight. Now we can't have that can we?!

      Anyway - delighted that you had an enjoyable experience and I hope to see you son. Maybe when the weather is better?!

  3. thank you Jess for this post, I'm glad that you enjoyed my work. I saw the exhibition last saturday and i'm agree with you, there are many beautiful works. Greetings from Italy