Friday, April 24, 2015

25th anniversary exhibition of the Shirley Sherwood Collection

An exhibition to celebrate the anniversary of a collection seems to me to be an excellent idea - but I hadn't seen one before this week.

Work by Botanical Artists in the Collection of Dr Shirley Sherwood OBE
(Left) Brian Poole - Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), Copper etching with watercolour
(Centre) Rosie Sanders - 'Greater Knapweed' watercolour
(Right) Phansakdi Chakkaphak- Caribbean Jewels Sapphire Blue (Scilla peruviana) - watercolour

Jonathan Cooper, Park Walk Gallery
(just off the Fulham Road)
A new exhibition opened this week at Jonathan Cooper, Park Walk Gallery in Chelsea.

It comprises Work from Botanical Artists in the Collection of Dr Shirley Sherwood OBE - and it celebrates 25 years since she began her collection.

She now has some 905 paintings and drawings by over 240 contemporary artists from 30 countries around the world.  That, as I think you will agree, is some collection!

What makes it very special is that much of it is work by contemporary botanical artists. Indeed Dr Sherwood has made a major contribution to the revival of interest in botanical art - not to mention a developing an art gallery dedicated to botanical art in collaboration with Kew Gardens.

She is, in short, a true patron of botanical art. To have your work chosen for her collection is very much seen as an accolade.

This however is not a display of her artworks in her collection - such as one might see at Kew. This is a selling exhibition.

You can view the e-catalogue or download catalogue.

The Artists

The artists chosen demonstrate the range of work in the collection and the artists who assembled in the gallery on Tuesday evening came from all over the world.

The two ladies who flew the furthest are Annie Hughes and Beverley Allen who both flew to the exhibition from Australia.  Both can be relied upon to produce an absolute stunner and there's one from Beverley in this show which you can see below their photograph - which includes one by Annie.

Annie Hughes and Beverley Allen - two world class Australian artists
with Annie's painting of Banksia Menziesii
Watercolour on Arches Paper, 56cm x 45cm £9,000
Gymea Lily (Doryanthese excelsa) by Beverley Allen
Watercolour on Arches Paper, 39 x 28" £11,000

Kingfisher & Angels Fishing Rods by Brian Poole
(Alcedo atthis and Dierama pendulum)
Copper aquatint and etching with iridescent watercolour finish
Plate size 58.5 x 44.5cm
Artist's Proof, from an edition of 70 plus 7 artist's proofs
Bryan Poole hails from New Zealand but actually travelled to the exhibition from his studio in Dalston!

Bryan produces amazing etchings which a number of people will be familiar with as they have featured on some of the covers of the catalogues for exhibitions at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery at Kew.

He told me that one of his favourite occupations is fishing and that this had inspired his etching of the Kingfisher & Angels Fishing Rods. He also said he liked to get a lot of movement into his compositions when it involves natural history as well as botanicals.

Susannah Blaxill is also from Australia. The exhibition includes her small painting of a fig on a black background - but that sold before the opening!

Three of the four American artists flew in from the USA for the Tuesday night preview.  They are:
  • Carol Woodin - who specialises in painting rare plants in watercolour on vellum. She's also the Director of Exhibitions for the American Society of Botanical Artists.  I had a fascinating discussion with her concerning how she mounts her vellum support for her paintings on board (but that's for another post!). It's an extremely impressive presentation which matches the quality of the painting.  Do take a look also at her slideshow of orchids she has painted around the world.
Carol Woodin with her Phormium.sp
watercolour on vellum over panel, 12.75" x 16" £3,000
  • Francesca Anderson who has an extremely impressive Resume  (She is the former President of the American Society of Botanical Artists, Founder of the Brooklyn Florilegium Society etc). However what I was most impressed with was her pen and ink drawing which has inspired me to get back to my pen and ink. She actually draws the way I'd like to draw (big!) and also draws things I keep wanting to draw but keep feeling I'll get lost in them - like ornamental cabbages and lettuce! But now I have a website portfolio to give me inspiration!  This is not a formal and scientific pen and ink drawing. Rather it starts with a gesture drawing in pencil and then Francesca uses a crow quill mapping pen with a fine point to develop the drawing in what I can only describe as an accurate but painterly style. 
Francesca Anderson with Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)pen and ink drawing on paper, 28.75" x 22.8"
  • Jessica Tcherepnine is a self taught botanical artist.  Notable aspects of her career to date are that she has two RHS Gold Medals; is a founding member of the American Society of Botanical Artists and has created paintings for the Highgrove Florilegium, Filoli Florilegium, and Brooklyn Botanic Garden Florilegium besides having work in many collections.
Quince (Cydonia Obloga) by Jessica Tcherepnine 
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico, 9.5" x 6.5"
Kate Nessler - is an American artist who also paints on vellum however she didn't make the trip. She is also represented by Jonathan Cooper. You can see her art which is available from the gallery (and art which has been sold via the gallery).

This is Scottish botanical artist Fiona Strickland, with her husband and teaching partner Robert McNeill, and one of Fiona's absolutely drop dead gorgeous poppies. She has another in the show as well which is almost as stunning.

Papaver Orientale by Fiona Strickland
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico HP 640 gs, 60cm x 80cm £9,500
Susan Ogilvy has two works in the show and one is what she calls a Corinthian Capital. It's a very unusual design idea to replace the sculpted Acanthus with real leaves!  Readers may recall Susan had an exhibition at Kew Gardens last year. Her second work - a nest - sold before the exhibition opened.

Susan Ogilvy with her Corinthian Capital (Acanthus mollis latifolius)
Watercolour on Arches Paper, 76 x 55.5cm £3,800
Rosie Sanders and Coral Guest both have large paintings in the show - but were at the preview for collectors on Wednesday so I missed them.

This is Viper's Bugloss - and I love the way Rosie manages to get really intense colour into her paintings. Check the size - this is big (no surprise there!)

Viper's Bugloss (Echium vulgare) by Rosie Sanders
Watercolour on Arches 640gsm, 102 x 70cm £9,000 
A view of the Gallery
(left) Peony and buds (£6,800) by Annie Hughes
(Centre)  The Phenology Cabinet of the Incandescent Petal: Series 1 Magenta Cultivars of Paeonia Lactiflora from 19th Century by Coral Guest
Acrylic on canvas, 60.25 x 40.13ins (153 x 102cm) £16,000
(right top) Amaryllis (Reserved) by Ingrid Finnan
(Right bottom) Prunus Mume 'Kenkyou' £2,600 by Mieko Ishikawa 
Dr Shirley Sherwood with Phansakdi Chakkaphak
His painting Caribbean Jewels Sapphire Blue (Scilla peruviana) (Sold) is the background on the left
Phansakdi Chakkaphak is an artist who is Thai by birth although he has lived for long periods in the USA. 

Other artists in the exhibition are:

I very much recommend this exhibition to all botanical artists and art collectors. You rarely see paintings of this quality together outside a museum.

I'm currently processing a video of Dr Sherwood's speech and hope to post it soon.

Exhibition Details

The exhibition can be seen at Jonathan Cooper Park Walk Gallery, 20 Park Walk, London, SW10 0AQ.  The gallery is open Monday – Friday 10am – 6.30pm and Saturday 11am – 4pm. Admission is free.

1 comment:

Inky Leaves said...

Seriously enjoyed this post Katherine. I love Francesca's work, so it's really great to see she was included in this show. Some great works by some great artists. I especially like Coral's piece - interesting to see that it is in acrylic (thanks for the brilliant image captions). Anyway, really wish I was there!

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