Saturday, October 27, 2012

RHS Gold Medal winning Botanical Photography

Last week I went to the RHS London Shades of Autumn Show at the RHS Horticultural Halls, Westminster.  This show had an Exhibition of Botanical Photography.  This photography is very much leaning towards the aesthetic and artistic end of botanical photography as well as recording plants, flowers, fruit and vegetables and gardens.

Below are photographs of the two Gold Medal Winners - Clay Perry (Norfolk) and Nigel Chapman (Hampshire).

Clay Perry GM

The first is professional photographer Clay Perry who apparently entered at the last minute after being told about the exhibition.

Clay Perry - Gold Medal Winner
Heritage Fruits and Vegetables

© Clay Perry
This was Clay's first RHS Show. However he has previously shown his portfolio of Heritage Fruits and Vegetables at RHS Wisley in connection with the publication of his book Heritage Fruits & Vegetables published by Thames and Hudson - with text written by Toby Musgrave.  He wanted to draw attention to the loss of traditional vegetable varieties and managed to get RHS Publications interested in the idea.  He then began the long process of sourcing and photographing all the different fruits and vegetables for the book.  He was helped enormously by the The Lost Gardens of Heligan which focuses on the traditional varieties.  They shipped the fruit and vegetables to his studio and then he set about finding the best way to photograph them.

I recognised that they were a homage to a Spanish still life artist whose name I can never remember.  Which is how Clay and I ended up having a discussion about Juan Sanchez Cotan (1561 - 1627) who is renowned for his still life paintings - with a black background - of fruits and vegetables, some of which are hung on a string.  (More about this painter next week).  Apparently Clay and Cotan share a birthday having both been born on the 25th June.

© Clay Perry
© Clay Perry
For those interested in buying one of his prints, Clay has kindly agreed to extend the offer made to those attending the exhibition to the readers of this blog.  He has a limited edition of prints of each image in three sizes.

All medium sized signed photographic art prints (16" x 10.5") can be purchased for £300 unframed (compared to the normal price of £500 unframed) until 7th November by quoting the RHS-AS code when purchasing from Clay's website.  This is the link to buy prints where you can see all the prints in the heritage porfolio.  Personally I love the Quince and Cabbage suspended with melons.

Nigel Chapman GM

This was Nigel Chapman's fifth Gold Medal.  He was the Royal Horticultural Society Photographer of the Year in 2005 and has previously won four Gold Medals in the RHS Autumn Exhibitions.  You can see his winning work on his website and Flickr

Plants in Close-Up by Nigel Chapman
His series of Plants in Close-Up appealed to me enormously because his macro approach reflects very much by approach to botanical art where I like to take a close-up look at the structure of a plant.  

© Nigel Chapman
© Nigel Chapman
I bought one of Nigel's prints - the Traveller's Palm (bottom right) - mainly because this is what I was supposed to have completed for this year's SBA exhibition but I couldn't get it to work!

Nigel is also offering his matted prints for sale at a discounted rate of £35 for the same time period - up to 7 November - if you reference this blog post to him.  His images are 40cm x 30cm and the mat is 50cm x 40cm. Contact him via his website if you are interested in making a purchase - and don't forget to mention this post!

Having looked around the rest of the exhibition I did come away wondering whether I should enter this competition next year!

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