Friday, April 20, 2012

27th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists

The Society of Botanical Artists opened its 27th Annual Exhibition - Botanical Celebration - to the public today. This was preceded by a Buyers Preview and a Private View for Members, Associate Members, Artists and their guests on Wednesday and Thursday. By the time I left at 7pm last night there were a lot of red dots around the artwork hanging in the gallery at Central Hall Westminster.

Society of Botanical Artists Annual Exhibition 2012
I highly recommend a visit to this exhibition by all artists who like portraying plants and flowers - you'll find the content very stimulating.

The exhibition is open every day between 11am and 5pm until Sunday 29th April.  Entrance is free but the catalogue costs £5.

Below you'll find my review of the exhibition.
  • Tomorrow I'll post the names of the people who won prizes along with images of their work. 
  • Next week I'll be publishing an interview with Fiona Strickland who provided the image for the front and back cover of the catalogue. She told me how her life has changed since she first exhibited with the SBA back in 2008.

Colour and Quality

There's a very nicely judged balance this year between the very precise and strictly technical botanical illustration,  the floral artwork which is frequently more colourful and the paintings of gardens and countryside depicting plants in their natural settings.

To my mind the range of drawings, paintings and fine art prints of botanical subject matter all complement one another irrespective of their particular style.  This exhibition is always at its best when it is demonstrating the sheer diversity of ways in which plants and flowers can be represented by artists.

Society of Botanical Artists Annual Exhibition 2012
Paintings, miniatures and prints at the
Society of Botanical Artists Annual Exhibition 2012
Society of Botanical Artists Annual Exhibition 2012
Society of Botanical Artists Annual Exhibition 2012
The standard remains high despite the fact that, from a submission of some 1,500+ pieces,  there are:
  • 719 drawings and paintings
  • 21 miniature art pieces
  • 24 artworks in three dimensions
It's always very pleasing to see the technical excellence displayed in the execution of much of the work on display. I'm always intrigued and delighted by the work that goes into designing the very clever compositions of many of the drawings and paintings.

Those familiar with botanical art will not be surprised to learn that watercolour is the favoured medium of most botanical artists and this exhibition is no exception.  The other media on display include graphite pencil, pen and ink, coloured pencil, gouache, oils, acrylic, egg tempera, soft pastels, oil pastels, painting on silk, etching and aqua tint and embroidery.  I noticed that the number of miniatures seems to have increased this year.

In addition to framed works the show also includes a number of jewellery and glass artists whose work also contains a botanical content.

The exhibition is well hung, there's no difficulty in seeing every single work and the grouping of images helps each image to be seen in a good light - both literally and metaphorically.

A small part of the exhibition
Work I liked

I liked Julia Loken's sectional perspectives on a Pointed Cabbage and a Purple Artichoke which seemed to move botanical art a little towards abstraction.  They certainly highlighted some of the wonderful patterning one can get when examining plants.

Pointed Cabbage and Purple Artichoke by Julia Loken SBA
I was very taken with the very delicate and subtle pencil leaf drawings of Carolyn J Worby SBA whose work I also highlighted last year.  It seems Carolyn has a bit of a thing about dead leaves.

Leaves by Carolyn Worby SBA
Showing the botanical characteristics of a plant can be a huge challenge in terms of composition as well as drawing and painting and there are many that excel at this.  I'm also very fond of the different ways that SMA members find to group different plants, flowers, fruits etc in one painting.  Below you can see three seasonal examples by Sue J Williams SBA Susan Christopher Coulson VPSBA and Sue Linton SBA

Winter Garden - Old Year, New Year by Sue J Williams MA(Oxon) SBA FCPGFS GM
In celebration of late Spring Scents 
by Susan Christopher Coulson VPSBA, SFP, GM CBM '06 and '11
coloured pencil
Spring Collection
by Sue Linton DipSBA(Dist.) SBA

The Diploma Students

The work of the Diploma students gets more and more space each year.  There's no question in my mind that much of the work on display would have been accepted without question into the exhibition in the normal way.

The work of some of the graduating Diploma Students
I was particularly pleased to meet Shevaun Docherty who started doing the Diploma after reading about it on this blog, who managed to complete SBA assignments while living in the middle of the Egyptian uprising (see Botanical Art under fire)  and who is today graduating with a distinction.


There are daily demonstrations by SBA members working in different media:
You can read about the annual exhibitions of the Society of Botanical Artists in my previous posts (see below)

Tomorrow - the prizewinners and the names of those awarded a Certificate of Botanical Merit.

2012 Exhibition

Links: [August 2016 - updated]

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the great overview of the show, Katherine. It was fun to see the diversity of styles and subject matter represented. So much creativity displayed within the relatively narrow confines of botanical art. Sometimes I think that having 'parameters' for one's art actually increases creativity, but I know that is a controversial statement...


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