Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A day in the life of botanical artist Rory McEwen

Rory McEwan The Colours of Reality
cover of the exhibition catalogue
Today I found out why people rave about the botanical art of Rory McEwen.  I went to The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens to visit two new exhibitions:
and also to hear a talk by Dr Shirley Sherwood about the two exhibitions.

More of this tomorrow after I've sorted through my notes - including those of an interview with Dr Sherwood

Today I'm going to post the details of a say in the painting life of Rory McEwen.  After his death in 1982, his family found a log of his the days spent painting botanical art.  It's in the exhibition and it's a real education to review.

Here's his timeline for Friday 6th February 1981
  • 9.45 - 12.30 Central Park Leaf
  • 12.30 - 1.20 Started F Melagris 12" x 9.5" (this is a fritallary)
  • 2 - 4 Central Park Leaf
  • 4 - 5.30 F. Meleagris
  • 5.30 - 6.30 Started William Lobb Rose
  • 6.30 - 8 Grayling Butterfly

A little further along in his journal he records the total time taken to complete Central Park Leaf as being 47 hours 30 minutes.

His work is absolutely amazing.  He has also been a very influential artist in terms of his impact on contemporary botanical artists.

Here's a video about his work

I highly recommend this exhibition to all botanical art lovers and all professional botanical artists through to students of botanical art. This is a really important retrospective - of which more tomorrow

Note:  the image at the top is the cover of the exhibition catalogue - also highly recommended.  the colour reproduction is superb.  You can buy it via Amazon
USA - Rory McEwen Colour of Reality
UK - Rory McEwen: Colours of Reality

My copy is now signed by Shirley Sherwood!


  1. Great to see you yesterday Katherine and looking so well after your operation. Thanks for this post - lovely to read and I very much look forward to seeing the next post. I am glad you got a chance to interview Dr. Sherwood.

    Just also wanted to point out that the book is £20 on Kew shopping. I myself am not a fan of tax-dodging Amazon, even more so after hearing that people who pre-ordered copies of the book have been told that they have run out! The link to kew shopping is: http://shop.kew.org/books-dvds/the-colours-of-reality-paperback.html

    Hope you got back ok yesterday.

  2. I can certainly recommend people take advantage of the £20 for the paperback at the Kew shop - which is what I did as Amazon couldn't fulfil my order before the exhibition. They'd run out!

    As indicated at the bottom of my blog, the amazon links are about how I afford my bookaholic habit! Also I find the botanical art posts get accessed via the archive for years to come - and I bet that offer won't last forever!


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