Saturday, April 25, 2009

Exhibition Review: Society of Botanical Artists #2

Society of Botanical Artists - The Private View copyright the artists /all photography by permission of the SBA

This post focuses on individual artists in this year's Annual "Flowers and Gardens" Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists. [Now updated to include all the details of prizewinners] One of the nice things about this particular exhibition is that although the majority of work is exceptional botanical art, its theme is 'flowers and gardens' and hence not all work has to be in a 'strict' botanical style. It makes for a nice mix which is very pleading to the eye. After yesterday's 'overview' review of the exhibition, I went back to the exhibition at the end of yesterday afternoon to have another look to try and sort out a shortlist of artists to feature today.
(top) Daler Rowney Choice Award - Lyschiton americanus by Shirley Slocock Assoc SBA, ASBA, CPGFS (bottom) Iris by Jan Harbon SBA SFP SGM copyright the artists

Well! I started with the notion of half a dozen - which very rapidly expanded to "my top ten" which rocketed forward to a baker's dozen before I decided I had to have another think! There really are that many good artists - and more - who deserve a mention. In fact 721 drawings and paintings, 7 miniatures and 40 sculptures by 228 artists competed for my attention! 

If you're not able to get to see the exhibition you can see a good selection of the SBA members works in the gallery on the SBA website. So in the end, I decided that I wouldn't say a lot this year about artists I've mentioned in the past. 

Plus I'd also try and highlight prizewinners where I could - and then make sure I mentioned the people who've I've not mentioned before who I thought deserved a mention! 

Here are the artists whose work I particularly liked. 
  • Shirley Slocock AssocSBA, ASBA who is Vice Chair of the Hampton Court Palace Florilegium Society. Her watercolour painting Lysichiton americanus (see top right) is very large and very impressive and won the The Daler Rowney Choice Award. It was my second choice for thePeople's Choice Award. I also really liked the two very small paintings she produced of two bulbs. She has a talent for producing saturated and beautifully graded watercolours. I'm guessing that the very smooth surface she uses may help in some way. 
Works by (left) Fiona Strickland and (right) Eiko Hamada copyright the artists

There's something very satisfying about seeing sets of paintings. While you don't get to see the sets of 8+ paintings which are exhibited at the Royal Horticultural Society one frequently sees sets of a smaller number of paintings.
  • Scottish artist Fiona Strickland DA SBA GM who was elected to full membership of the Society last year in her year of exhibiting with SBA. Her sunflowers are simply stunning and this year Fiona won the Margaret Grainger Memorial Bowl (for the best painting by a member within 2 years elected in the previous two years) for Helianthus, August Sunflower. Last year I said I'd like to know more about her and this year she has a members page on the SBA website.
  • Eiko Hamada AssocSBA GM produced a beautiful set of meticulous watercolour paintings of coniferous tree branches and their cones. These have earned her a Certificate of Botanical Merit and a Highly Commended award.
  • I loved the set of hydrangeas by Jean Ricketts GM
  • Wendy Cranston's set of small gouache paintings of fruit were very attractive and a good example of work which fell outside the 'strictly botanical'
Some artists were working in monochrome. 
  • Guy William Eves had two examples of very impressive and meticulous pencil work on display - Orchid and Skimmia Japponica (although the prices quoted at the SBA exhibition are lower than the ones in these links).  
Some artists have a very strong design element to their work. 
  • One such is Billy Showell BA SBA CBM (01,02,03,04,05,07) whose Pointed Cabbage was the runner up for the St Cutherberts Mill Award. However it was her designs with flowers, leaves and fruit in heart shapes which caught my eye!
Works by (left) Janie Pirie and (right) Billy Showell copyright the artists

Yet again this year there are more and more artists who are using coloured pencil for their submissions to this show. I've commented on Ann Swan in the past. 
  • This year I was particularly struck by the work of Janie Pirie SBA UKCPS SGM which provides an excellent example of what can be done with coloured pencils. I loved her hydrangea although it was her sweetcorn which won her a Highly Commended. 
  •  I also loved the "Scatterings" approach used by Susan Christopher Coulson BA(Hons) SBA SFP GM. for her coloured pencil drawings of Cyclamens and Rosehips
  • Sylvia Balch SBA, SM for watercolour paintings of roses
I've got to make a special mention of work by a couple of SBA Diploma Students Ann Carrodus (Narcissus, Ivy and Hazel) and Marilyn Cox (Working in the Field Assignment) whose work is truly inspiring.

The Joyce Cumming Presentation Award was won by Graham Corbett for Banksia integrifolia seedcone. Artists who were Highly Commended in the assessment of this prize were:
St Cuthbert's Mill Award for an outstanding watercolour painting Scabiosa (watercolour - top left in photo) by Cheryl Wilbraham copyright the artists

The St Cuthbert's Mill Award
for an outstanding watercolour painting has been awarded to Cheryl Wilbraham for a watercolour painting of Scabiosa. The President's Award for Work in Other Media is a cash prize for work in media other than pure watercolour. This was given to Neoregelia (gouache) by Simon Williams SBA SGM CBM(01, 03) . You can see this painting in the top right of the first photo in yesterday's blog post

The Margaret Stevens Award for an artist whose work reflects their concern for the the environment - was awarded this year to Marion Perkins SBA MIL FRSA CMB(07) for Rainforest and Toucan; Rainforest and Red-crested Touraco and Rainforest and Malagasi Duck

The Margaret Stevens Award a suite of work related to the rainforest by Marion Perkins copyright the artist
Artists who were awarded
Certificates of Botanical Merit are:
  • Graham Singleton-Reed Assoc. SBA for Crocus vernus
  • Lorraine Lambeth DipSBA for Passiflora
  • Noreen Taylor for Hedera helix for Common English Ivy
  • Fiona Strickland SBA for Helianthus, August Sunflower
  • Brigitte EM Daniel SBA for Catalpa bignonioides - Indian Bean Tree
  • Eiko Hamada Assoc SBA for Cedrus deodara
  • Hannelore Dahin DipSBA for Aesculus hippocastanum
  • Gaynor Dickeson SBA for Celeriac
The People's Choice Award will be announced at the end of the exhibition. For the record I voted for Giant Poppy Seed Heads in coloured pencil by Susan Christopher Coulson BA(Hons) SBA SFP GM. My eye just kept coming back to it! You can see it in the picture at the beginning of yesterday's post. Demonstrations are run every day throughout the show. The remaining demonstrations are as follows:
  • Sunday 26th April - Sandra Wall Armitage SBA (11am - 3.30pm - botanical)
  • Monday 27th April - Margaret Hammond AssocSBA (11am - 5pm pastel - freestyle)
  • Tuesday 28th April - Gillian French SBA (10am - 5pm watercolour - freestyle)
  • Wednesday 29th April - Sue Vise AssocSBA (pencil - botanical)
  • Thursday 30th April Jan Harbon SBA (11am - 5pm mixed media freestyle)
  • Friday 1st May - Marilyn Wheeler DLDC student (watercolour from photographs)
  • Saturday 2nd May - Ann Swan SBA (11am - 4pm coloured pencil - botanical)
  • Sunday 3rd May Jane Leycester Paige FSBA (10am - 1pm watercolour - botanical)
  • Sunday 3rd May Sandrine Maugy SBA (2pm - 5pm watercolour - botanical)
Links: Previous posts about this exhibition on Making A Mark Information sites about botanical art


  1. Katherine,
    Thanks for posting this show. I love botanical art and the ones you highlighted are simply gorgeous.


  2. THANK YOU for this beautiful review of the 2011 show ! It is much appreciated, and studied. As a current student with the Distance Learning program, I have a piece in the student section, but was not able to make the journey to the UK.
    I will spend many an hour perusing your beautiful pictures in the days to come. Thanks again.
    Estelle DeRidder


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