Saturday, June 06, 2009

Exhibition Review - In Search of Gingers

Sandy Ross Sykes is devoted to Gingers. She specialised in painting the Zingiberaceae family (gingers) while completing her Masters degree at the Royal College of Art. In doing so when she graduated in 2004, she also won the prestigious RCA/Thames and Hudson book prize. Her work has also been exhibited in the USA, UK and Hong Kong

Paintings of the Zingiberaceae Family
page from Sandy Ross Sykes website
copyright the artist

As an artist to my mind she is very much following in the path and very fine tradition of illustrating natural history overseas which was set by women such Maria Sibylla Merian, Marianne North and Margaret Mee.

In Search of Gingers is an exhibition of works by Sandy Ross Sykes at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery (Galleries 3 and 4) at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew which continues until 16th August 2009. It's previously been exhibited in Hong Kong by the British Council.

Sandy Ross Sykes now bases herself in Hong Kong so that she can travel around South east Asia in search of different members of the the Zingiberaceae family.

The exhibition is a fascinating mixture of sketchbooks, records from her journals, artifacts collected en route and the final paintings. It's organised around her journies and search for different gingers. Each journey to different parts of South East Asia is described.

It's a great pity that neither the artist's website nor the Kew website show the sketchbooks and displays which have been created from her sketchbooks as she records the places she has been, the circumstances she has lived and worked in and her travails en route. It gives a real insight into the work of a natural history artist on a mission. I rather think there's going to be scope for a book one day!

However, you can see some of her paintings of Zingiberaceae on her website

There are currently over 1,200 known varieties of Zingiberaceae species in South East Asia. By exhibiting her work, Sykes aims to raise public awareness of the species, and so help safeguard their natural habitats. Illegal logging, pollution, and urbanisation are three of the main problems facing this fascinating and economically significant family of plants.

1 comment:

Laura Frankstone said...

I would LOVE to see those sketchbooks! i hope she reads this and acts accordingly ; D. I also love the fact that she's been focusing on one plant family---that kind of self-imposed focus can generate very strong work. Hers is a great case in point.

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