Tuesday, November 19, 2013

'Black and White in Colour' at Kew Gardens - a review

Black and White in Colour
Paintings by Sue Wickison
I can highly recommend a visit to the Shirley Sherwood Gallery at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew to see 'Black and White in Colour' - an exhibition of art for sale by two botanical artists Sue Wickison and Sue J Williams. These two artists are extremely well travelled and have painted botanical flora all over the world.

The exhibition opened last month and continues until Sunday 5 January 2014 - so plenty of time to see it and maybe to buy a gift for Christmas!

Below you can see more images of the artists and their work.

Sue Wickison with some of her work
Sue Wickison has been interested in natural history all her liife. She has also travelled extensively collecting botanical specimens. Her botanical painting career started with an Honours degree in Scientific Illustration and she worked for a number of years as an illustrator for the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. In 2008 she won an RHS Gold Medal for her botanical art. She also regularly exhibits with and wins prizes from the Society of Botanical Artists. She now lives with her family in New Zealand.  This is a link to a gallery of her work on her website

I love the fact she's painting a lot of plants I don't see regularly - and they've often got a distinct sculptural feel to them. They're certainly very striking - and I love her large format paintings which are very impressive.

Sue J Williams with her work "Black and White in Spring"
Sue J Williams is a member of and regular exhibitor with the Society of Botanical Artists and Florum and is also a Fellow of the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society.  Travelling and living in different countries because of her husband's work has enabled her to make first hand studies of a number of native flora of different countries.

Sue Williams tends to focus more on plants and flowers which typically tend to be somewhat smaller than those painted by the other Sue. Her smaller paintings are however no less distinguished.

Part of the display of Sue J Williams' artwork
Black and white are two colours which always perplex those of us who try to render the colours accurately while at the same time avoiding the plants or flowers looking flat.  Looking for the colour in black and white is a challenge - not least when you're working on white paper as well!

I love the fact both artists have set up a display case with samples of how their work normally progresses from first sketch, through colour mixing and towards a frame and an exhibition.

A display case of sketches and try-outs and paint mix samples by Sue J Williams
all the normal "working papers" of the botanical artist!
(Please note this was very difficult to photograph because of the overhead lights shining on the glass
The real thing is infinitely better looking!)
Examples of studies and colour mixing samples by Sue Wickison
One of the interesting aspects of the exhibition is they have focused on aspects of plant life which are endangered species.  This is where other aspects of Kew's work - in Kew’s Herbarium and the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place ("Kew in the country") come to the fore.

The theme is one of opposites and contrasts, the aim to show the variations in colour within an apparently restricted palette. The contrasts include the scale of their paintings and the variety of their subject matter – with plants from the northern and southern hemispheres, exotic and familiar, critically endangered to popular and wide-spread species. Many of the paintings on display are also for sale.

The Two Sues - Sue Wickison (left) and Sue J Williams (right)
Those thinking about visiting will be able to see not one but three exhibitions:
If you want to keep track of exhibitions at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery I suggest you bookmark this link http://www.kew.org/collections/art-images/shirley-sherwood-gallery/index.htm
The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art opened at Kew Gardens in April 2008 and is the only continuously open gallery in the world dedicated solely to botanical art. It holds regular exhibitions throughout the year featuring historical and contemporary botanical illustrations.

1 comment:

cynthia jackson said...

These are all so beautiful!! :-) Cynthia

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