Thursday, April 15, 2010

EXHIBITION: Society of Botanical Artists 2010 #1

Billy Showell's "Shoes" 2005-2009

The Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists opens tomorrow at Central Hall, Westminster (in Storey's Gate opposite Westminster Abbey). It continues until 25th April and is open every day 10.00 to 5.00pm

This year the exhibition marks 25 years since the Society was founded and hence this is their Silver Jubilee Exhibition.

I was fortunate to be able to see the exhibition at the reception that I was invited to on Tuesday night. At that time there were no notices about who had won prizes so there will be a second post next week which will highlight the prizewinners and their work. I'll also be posting again about the work of the coloured pencil artists at the show.

As always I'm very grateful to Margaret Stevens and the SBA for the permission I'm given to photograph the exhibition for this review.

There are many excellent works of botanical art on display. This as always is one of the few places where you can see a range of the type of work produced by full members - many of who have won gold medals from the Royal horticultural Society (denoted by GM after their name) - alongside the work of up and coming botanical artists.

(top) Plums - 17th August
watercolour, 46 x 61 cm (181/8“ x 24”) Framed size: approx 69 x 83 cm (27 x 33”)

(bottom) Rose Hips
watercolour, 48 x 36 cm (19” x 14”) Framed size: approx 74 x 62 cm (29 x 24”)
copyright Anna Knights GM

Every year there are artists who make you stop and stare. This year for me it was Anna Knights GM and the two largish works which you can see above. She has an absolutely masterly approach to the colour and surface of the fruit. I gathered that she was a young artist who os entirely self taught and has not shown with the SBA before. I sincerely hope she will do so againnext year as her work is a joy! Check out her website (see links) for more examples of very impressive contemporary botanical artwork. Between you can visit her at home in Shamley Green in Surrey which will be open as part ofSurrey Artists Open Studios

I've been hearing recently how much people are enjoying Billy Showell's books and I know she's a very popular tutor. If you visit the show you'll also be able to enjoy Billy's ability to enliven traditional botanical art with a twist on the conventional portrait of flowers and plants - this time we're treated to a set of five shoes constructed from flowers - see the image at the top. Billy will be teaching in America in September 2010, at the ASAB conference in Pittsburg.

The exhibition this year generally seems to be more oriented towards classical botanical illustration. While an awful lot of the works on display are very good I missed the range of work I've seen in previous years. That said, exhibitions always vary from year to year at any society and some botanical art fans may well enjoy the change!

Botanical Artwork by Jane Leycester Page FSBA

I've always liked the fact that this exhibition embraces all types of art portraying plants, whether flowers or vegetables, inclusive if artists so choose of the environment in which they grow - whether that's a jungle or the domestic garden! It's created a really interesting exhibition and helps to modulate a show which has over 700 works - and that's before you start counting the miniatures and the 3D works! I've enjoyed the large and colourful pictures which have been submitted by some members but which seemed to be missing this year. For me they acted as a unique punctuation for the show and helped provide natural visual breaks. They also helped with navigation around the show!

As always the show also has a corner devoted to the work of the students of the Distance Learning Diploma Course in Botanical Illustration. Below you can see some of the portfolio work displayed.

Botanical portfolio work by the 'graduating' Diploma Students

Today I've also posted a book review of the new book by Mary Ann Scott which has been published in association with the Society of Botanical Artists. See Book Review: Botanical Sketchbook.

There are demonstrations by a range of artists during the course of the exhibition. Contact the SBA for more details as to who is appearing on which day.

You can also find courses by members of the SBA here

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