Saturday, March 17, 2012

7 Gold Medal Winners at RHS Botanical Art 2012

On Friday afternoon I met four of the seven gold medal winners at the RHS Botanical Art Show which was held in the Lindley Hall in London on 16-17th March.

Julia Trickey GM and her display of 'Fading Flowers observed"© Julia Trickey
The RHS Botanical Art Show is very much an international event in the botanical art world - and it's a real coup just to get permission to exhibit!

These are the artists exhibiting this year categorised by the country they now line in.

Award Winners

The two premier awards were won by two of the Gold Medal Winners
  • Best Exhibit in the RHS Botanical Art Show 2012:  Native Ferns of the Peak District by Louise Lane
  • Best Botanical Painting in the RHS Botanical Art Show 2012: Astrophytum by Annie Hughes

Gold Medal Winners

Gold Medals are only awarded to exhibits of outstanding and consistent excellence.
Seven Gold Medals were awarded to exhibiting artists.  This year the Gold Medals were won by:
  1. Gulnur Eksi  - Plants from the woods and forests of Chile
  2. Annie Hughes - Astrophytums
  3. Heeyoung Kim - American Prairie Plants
  4. Kumiko Kosuda - Tricytis
  5. Louise Lane - Native Ferns of the Peak District
  6. Julia Trickey - Fading Flowers Observed
  7. Christiana Webb - Winter Oaks
I got to speak to four of the gold medal winners and you can read their interviews below.

Part of the Gold Medal Award winning display of Astrophytum by Annie Hughes
© Annie Hughes
Annie Hughes GM
with the Best Painting in RHS Botanical Art Show 2012
© Annie Hughes
Annie Hughes is originally from Santiago in Chile but now lives in New South Wales in Australia.

Last year, I met her when she won a gold medal for a beautiful set of nine watercolour paintings of Camellias.

This year she was back again - and winning another Gold Medal for her amazing set of Astrophytum.  One of her works - which had a stunning set of spines and the characteristic white spots won Annie the Best Painting in Show award (see right).  This painting was bought by the Royal Horticultural Society for its collection.

The white spots are actually tuft hair.  I was intrigued by the technique Annie had used to represent these.
  • On one of her paintings she'd just used white watercolour paint on top of the base colour.  
  • On an astrophytum which has a very pronounced pattern, she had then added a smidgen of white gouache in to her white watercolour paint.
Annie Hughes teaches botanical art in workshops in Australia.

Heeyoung Kim and two of her Gold Medal Winning collection of American Prairie Plants
(left) Fringed Gentian £5,420 (US $8,500)
(right) Ohio Spiderwort £4,330 (US $6,800)
© Heeyoung Kim
Heeyoung Kim lives in Illinois and has a passion for recording the plants of the American Prairie.  I was shocked to hear that the Tallgrass Prairie has gone from being what was once the largest ecosystem in America to what is now one of the most endangered systems in the world - with only 1% of the original tallgrass prairie remaining in existence.  The majority of it has been converted to intensive crop producing - and the wild flowers have been lost.

The American Prairie Plants she was exhibiting were a combination of common, rare and endangered species.  Her approach is to

  • make studies in the field to get a record if the plant structure and the colours.  
  • Heeyoung told me that for some of the plants she has to wait three years until the plant flowers as they are not perennials and grow from seed.  
  • She then creates her very fine watercolour paintings in her studio.  
  • Also that she uses Miniature 000 brushes for a lot of her watercolours.

Louise Lane - Louise was brought up in Hathersage in the Derbyshire Peak District and now lives in Sheffield.  She's been painting botanical art on and off for about ten years.  This was her first RHS show and her first Gold Medal - and I'm sure there will be more to come!

Louise Lane and two of her Gold Medal winning collection
of nine pencil drawings of Native Ferns of the Peak District
© Louise Lane
Three of the nine pencil drawings of Native Ferns of the Peak District
© Louise Lane
Her display of nine drawings of Native Ferns of the Peak District was done entirely in pencil.  Louise works Fabriano Artistico 140lb HP and uses Staedtler Clutch pencils (HB, H and 2B).  She has an extremely light touch and her pencil work was exquisite.

Her work besides being excellent - and quite the best botanical art in pencil I've seen in some time - was also very nicely framed with a double mount and a frame which neatly complemented the tonality of the pencil work.  I'm not in the least bit surprised that she won the Best Exhibit Prize

Julia Trickey lives in Bath where she teaches botanical illustration for the University of Bath.  She has been painting botanical art for has previously won two Gold Medals for suites of leaves - Leaves, Celebrating Imperfection (GM 2008) and Leaf Portraits (GM 2006) plus three silver gilt medals.

Julia works on Arches 140lb HP and always stretches her work as she uses a lot of wet in wet techniques.  She seems to like portraying flowers and leaves when they are past their best. Her exhibit was of flowers which were in the process of fading away.

Her display was stunning and quite different for a number of reasons:
  • the artwork on display was larger than life
  • she completes her paintings while working with a very limited palette - which gives a unity to her suite of watercolour paintings
    • Daler Rowner: Sap Green
    • Winsor and Newton: Permanent Rose, Transparent Yellow, French Ultramarine, Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Indigo
  • her artwork was also well presented in non-permanent frames.  The artwork was float mounted on foamcore, and then a frame was created from white slip with stretched cellophane acting as 'glass'.  It's a very neat way of transporting and presenting large botanical artworks.  (Note: The RHS does not require botanical artwork to be framed for the show)
Below you can see two more photos of her work which had a huge "carry across the room" impact

Larger than Life - fading flowers observed (#1) by Julia Trickery
© Julia Trickery
Larger than Life - fading flowers observed (#2) by Julia Trickery
© Julia Trickery
Gulnur Eksi - I tried to get to speak to Gulnur several times but she had a lot of visitors wanting to speak with her and was deep in conversation every time I came back to her stand.  Below are photos of her splendid work on display in the exhibition.

Plants from the woods and forests of Chile by Gulnur Eksi
© Gulnur Eksi
Plants from the woods and forests of Chile by Gulnur Eksi
© Gulnur Eksi
Christiana Webb - was not at the show but you can see her work below.  Her emphasis was on the leaves of oaks in winter.

Winter Oaks by Christiana Webb
© Christiana Webb

Guidance on exhibiting Botanical Art at an RHS Show

Last year I wrote a post about How to enter the RHS Botanical Art Show.

Exhibition of botanical art on the RHS website is the page to visit to read the guidance for submitting work to be displayed in 2013.  This includes the
The following may be regarded as positive features in assessing an exhibit:
  • good draughtsmanship and, when applicable, good painterly skills
  • that the depiction of plants or plant material is botanically accurate
  • that each picture is well composed
  • that the space allocated in which to hang the pictures is well-filled without being overcrowded
  • that the exhibit has an overall unity
  • that any written information is accurate and well presented and includes the Latin name
  • that any frames, mounts or other accessories used are appropriate in style, scale and condition
  • that the design of the display enhances the appearance of the drawings or paintings
Submissions meetings
Please note there is an annual submission meeting to assess artists for exhibiting in RHS shows. The deadline for submissions for consideration at this meeting is Wednesday 27 June 2012.  The date of the next selection meeting is 5 July, 2012.
You can also see the standard of the artwork of the Gold Medal Winners  in my previous posts:
If you'd like to know more about botanical art please check out my information websites:

[August 2016 - updated]

Note: I'd really appreciate it if the RHS could recognise that people who go to see the Botanical Art Show don't necessarily want to see the Orchid Show.  Despite being an RHS member (at some expense!) and getting into all other shows at the RHS Halls for free, on this occasion I have to pay £5 to see an Orchid Society show in a completely different hall which I didn't even visit!  There's something wrong with this approach!


  1. Such lovely work by all - what talented people!

  2. Fascinating post, Katherine. Great coverage of the exhibition and the artists.

  3. Great article Katherine! I have been at the exhibition Saturday afternoon, and right at the end I had an opportunity to talk to Gulnur Eksi. She was very friendly and we chatted for quite a while. Hope I was not the one keeping you away :)

  4. No - I was there on Friday afternoon.

  5. Thanks for the photos of the winning pieces and the informative interviews--very interesting and inspiring!


COMMENTS HAVE BEEN CLOSED AGAIN because of too much spam.
My blog posts are always posted to my Making A Mark Facebook Page and you can comment there if you wish.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.