Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Certificates of Botanical Merit at SBA Annual Exhibition 2014

Read on to discover the artwork and artists which were awarded Certificates of Botanical Merit in the 2014 Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists

Botanical merit, as we have seen in the RHS shows, is of particular importance when it comes to botanical art.

That's why the Certificates of Botanical Merit are held in such high esteem. It's also no coincidence that winners of CBMs are often people who have already won an RHS Gold Medal as well!

Certificates of Botanical Merit

The 2014 Judge who decided which works should get a Certificate of Botanical Merit is Dr Brent Elliot. He is currently Historian to the Royal Horticultural Society and prior to that was Librarian of the Royal Horticultural Society from 1982 to 2007. He's also the author of several books.

Primula vulgaris by Angela Martin SBA

Of particular note is the fact that this painting was singled out by the keynote speaker - Dr Nigel Dunnet, Professor of Planting Design and Vegetation Technology, and Director of The Green Roof Centre, University of Sheffield (and one of the men who designed the wild flower meadows for the OIlympic Park).

He pointed out that he not only found the descriptive note informative and helpful - he actually also learned something he didn't know about the primrose!

It's a very fine painting providing a lot of information without overloading the design. Scale information is present but discrete. I also particularly liked the way this work was presented in terms of the additional cut out for the name. It's also a total bargain!

Primula vulgaris (watercolour) £250
by Angela Martin SBA

Lophophora diffusa var koehresii by Alena Lang Phillips DipSBA

I guess a lot of people never stop to think about what lies below a cactus. This artwork has five pencil drawings of different aspects derived from dissection.

The importance of this plant is that it is threatened in the wild. Thinking about the status of a plant and of the need to record its existence is an important consideration when developing artwork for open exhibitions or competitions.

Lophophora diffusa var. koehresii (watercolour) £750
by Alena Lang Phillips 

Scots Pine by Chris Taylor Dip SBA (Dist.) SFP

I'm not surprised this won a Certificate of Botanical Merit - just look at the amount of information packed into this artwork in a very pleasing design.

Scots Pine (watercolour) £500
by Chris Taylor

Sprouting Potato by Norma Gregory SBA, Assoc BWS, GM2006, 2008 and 2011, CBM 2013

I always like seeing Norma Gregory's work. Her painting is always very finely developed. This particular richly developed sprouting potato has been painted at 1.75 x life size. Sometimes the very simplest plants can provide a rich range of subject matter if you consider them for long enough!

Sprouting Potato (watercolour) £1,500
by Norma Gregory 

A View Inside: Echinacea purpurea by Sarah Morrish RGBE Cert BI SFP

Sarah's painting of an Echinea reflects the style of art developed by the great Arthur Church. It's unsurprising this should be one that finds favour with Sarah given her botanical and ecological background.

A View Inside: Echinacea purpurea (watercolour) £325
by Sarah Morrish

I find references to great botanical artists of the past seem to be well received by both the SBA and the RHS. The trick is to reflect their interests but also be completely original.

I rather like the Certificate of Botanical Art that artists get when they win one. The drawing included on the certificate is the graphite drawing of Acanthus spinosus by Rachel Munn SBA which won the President's award last year.

Awardwinners also get notes and feedback about the reasons why the award was made.

Sarah Morrish with her Certicate and artworks

Taccha chantrieri seed by Sue Wickison SBA

The main painting provides a lot of information about the characteristics and structure of the plant. Botanical information via dissection is supplied but doesn't overwhelm and scale information is present but discrete.

Taccha chantrieri seed (watercolour) from Willington Botanical Gardens, New Zealand
Sue Wickison SBA

Crocus ‘Romance’ by Janet Pope SBA

This painting exhibits stages of growth and dissected materials and an awful lot of root!  It was also part of an impressive suite of similar plants.
Crocus Romance by Janet Pope.

Japanese Ginseng by Akiko Sato AssocSBA

Akiko was Highly Commended last year for her Pokeweed.  This paintings displays both flower and fruit alongside a nice designed rendition of the root system.
Japanese Ginseng (watercolour and gouache) £800
by Akiko Sata Assoc SBA

Nature's Super Structure No. 1: Magnolia Seed Heads by Susan Christopher-Coulson VPSBA, SFP, GM CBM 2006 and 2011

This is a fun presentation - I kept trying to make the design spell a word!

Then when you get up close (or in my case zoom in on a photo - which is what I do for all the CBM pics) you begin to see the very precise and meticulous detail represented in this drawing. Remember it's sometimes a very good idea to bring a magnifying glass to this exhibition if you really want to appreciate the work that went into an artwork.

Also note that a drawing can be about something very simple - in concept - if not in detail!

PS Note that Susan Christopher Coulson has a lovely NEW website!

Nature's Super Structure No. 1: Magnolia Seed Heads (coloured pencil) £675
by Susan Christopher-Coulson SBA

See also this year's prizewinners in my post Prizewinners at the Society of Botanical Artist's Annual Exhibition 2014

More information about Botanical Art

For more about people being awarded Certificates of Botanical Merit see

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the showing my painting of Lophophora diffusa var koehresii on your blog. This plant is actually not threatened with extinction in the wild. This specific Lophophora is from my cacti collection. I chose to paint the var. koehresii because it has the largest tap root in the lophophora genus. Tap root if not the most typical in the cacti family, only few of the cacti genera have this type of root. I love cacti plants and things like this are of interest to me :)


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