Saturday, June 06, 2009

Exhibition review: "The Power of Plants" at Kew Gardens

This is the last review of the the three exhibitions of botanical art which are currently on display at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

Citrus decumana
(Flowers and fruit of the Pomelo)
Marianne North (1830-1890)
Marian North Collection,
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

These are:
If you love botanical art you need to allow quite some time to get round all three as there's such a lot to see!

The Power of Plants….
until 26 July, The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art

Tamarindus indica
(fruit and foliage of the Tamarind)
Marianne North (1830-1890)
Marian North Collection,
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Kew's collection of plants from around the world include a large number which have economic value and/or health-giving properties. They're represented in the gardens, in the herbarium and also in thousands of works in Kew's botanical art collection.

What The Power of Plants exhibition does is display a selection of botanical drawings, paintings and illustrations of plants which have either an economic value or have some component which is essential to human well-being - for examples in relation to physical well-being, food and textiles.

The works from Kew's Botanical Art Collection which are included in the exhibition are both historic and contemporary and the exhibition also features plants from all over the world.

Some of the artists are very well known in the botanical art world - such as Ferdinand Bauer, Georg Dionysius Ehret and Marianne North. Other are unknown - for example illustrations from the ‘Company School’. This comprised a number of often unnamed Indian artists who were commissioned to produce illustrations by the merchants and officials of the East India Company.

I've made a note of admiring Ehret's Punica granatum - and having made a note of how we went about it I'm thinking of having a go at developing a contemporary version (I must add pomegranates to my shopping list!)

Other works which I spotted included:

As well as the exhibition, a selection of plants used for health, food and textiles also feature in the summer bedding display in the Palm House Parterre. We also enjoyed seeing examples of various seeds which were in display in one of the glasshouses.

I really recommend an outing to see all three exhibitions if you're a fan of botanical art. I hope the fans in the UK are now thinking about making a visit while those people overseas enjoy the links instead!

Making a Mark reviews......


  1. I visited the new gallery at Kew during a recent visit to London and was very impressed. I look foreward to future exhibitions at this new gallery.

  2. thanks for the info Katherine... I am living in M'sia... it's through your blog that I am able to enjoy these art to a certain extent... thanks alot!

  3. I'm totally crazy about the paintings shown in this post and would so love to see them in person. Do you know if there's a catalogue for the show?

  4. Sadly no there isn't Jana - and I think that's a very real pity.

    I've got a post about Marianne North planned so you'll see more then.


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