Sunday, May 11, 2014

Prizewinners at the Society of Botanical Artist's Annual Exhibition 2014

Sandra Wall Armitage, the new President of the Society of Botanical Artists led the prize giving ceremony for the deserving botanical artists at this year's Annual Exhibition.

She was assisted by the Speaker who opened the exhibition, Dr Nigel Dunnet, Professor of Planting Design and Vegetation Technology, and Director of The Green Roof Centre, University of Sheffield. He was one of the people responsible for the wildflower meadows which were such a feature of the Olympic Park.  You can follow Nigel and his plants on - he posts lots of pics of plants - particularly ones relating to green roofs!
We have an inbuilt response to flowers. When you are surrounded by beautiful flowers most people experience a sense of well-being.Dr Nigel Dunnet
The theme of this year's show is Botanical Garden and you can see it in the Westminster Gallery at Central Hall Westminster until Sunday 18th May. It's free to enter and is open every day between 11am and 5pm.

Botanical Garden - 29th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists
9th May - 18th May 2014
all artwork copyright the artists
all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell - with the kind permission of the SBA
The Gallery has had a refurbishment and I have to say now provides a much better looking environment for the exhibition which looked excellent. The false ceilings and battening on the walls have all gone and the new walls and paint bring a very fresh look to the space which in my opinion only enhances the artwork.

The shop has been relocated and appeared to be doing extremely well! (see yesterday's post - What every art society needs - an exhibition shop)

The Diploma also has a very clear space for those interested in finding out about studying for the qualification and the quality of the student work on display was exceptional.

Simon Williams, the Course Director reviews the student exhibit with a visitor

One of the things I particularly liked this year was the way very informative labels had been introduced for some works (I guess it was optional?) so that visitors can not only admire the art but also learn something about the plant they are looking at and/or the approach adopted by the artist. You can see one of these listed below under Claire Ward's artwork.

One slight reservation I had is that some of the works were hung rather high for a proper appreciation of the artwork. This meant I was  also fighting with the lighting when taking pictures which were hung high - as it was so strong it was producing "white outs" - and I apologise to all those artists if their artwork is not quite true.

I understand there's a notion that maybe the number of works accepted should be reduced in future to improve the hang for visitors.  I like the fact it has 677 works plus the sculpture - however a bit of a prune may well be in order.

However, this will present the selection panel with something of a challenge as the standard of exhibit is very high this year. One of the interesting characteristics of the exhibition this year was seeing some of the people who have recently qualified either with SBA or in Edinburgh "hitting their stride" and beginning to submit superior work - as reflected in the awards and Certificates of Botanical Merit. I can only imagine the standard will continue to improve year on year!

I also noted a sudden surge in the number of works being submitted and hung with a black background.

This post will be followed by one dedicated to those people who won a Certificate of Botanical Merit - but first here are details of the prizewinners.....

Society of Botanical Art - 2014 Awards

The Joyce Cuming Presentation Award A legacy from Joyce Cuming – a sterling silver Almoner’s plate. The winner receives a certificate.
Arisarum Proboscideum (Mouse Plant) £2,500
from Wellington Botanic Gardens, New Zealand (watercolour)
I thought it looked familiar. I'd previously seen it at the exhibition by the two Sues at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, London, UK 12 Oct 2013 - 05 Jan 2014. See my blog post - 'Black and White in Colour' at Kew Gardens - a review - where you can also read more about Sue Wickison and her botanical artwork and also see examples of studies and colour mixing samples.

Sue Wickison also won this award in 2011. For those wanting to follow artists who are currently setting benchmarks can I recommend you follow Sue's website and her production of large format contemporary botanical art.  When I say "go big", I mean this big! (Those who I have said this to will recognise the comment)

Those Highly Commended included:

  • Meg O’Neil for Pelargonium sp Cumbanita series
  • Susan Dalton SBA - for Carpus betula

 Carpinus betulus - Common Hornbeam (watercolour) £750
by Susan Dalton

  • Margaret Eccles AssocSBA - for Black Tulip

Black Tulip (watercolour) £500
by Margaret Eccles

  • Gillian Martin SBA - for Nelumbo nucifera

Nelumbo nucifera - Sacred Lotus (Watercolour) £659
by Gillan Martin Dip SBA (Dist.)

  • Kate Nuttall SBA - for Banksia menziesii

Banksia Menziesi (watercolour) £200i
by Kate Nuttall

  • Julie A Small SBA GM  CBM '96, '97, '02, '06 - for Sarracenia purpurea (pencil) 

Sarracenia purpurea (pencil) £400
by Julie a Small 
  • Christiana Webb for Castanea sativa (Sweet Chestnut)

Castanea sativa (Sweet Chestnut) (watercolour) £950
by Christiana Webb

A Year in a Welsh Oak Wood Of the Rheidol Valley, NNR & SSSI (watercolour and graphite) £995
by Claire Ward
This is the label which accompanies the artwork by Claire Ward seen immediately above
It's worth noting that yet again a prize has been awarded to a botanical illustration of plants of particular scientific interest - given the status of the woods in terms of being both a National Nature Reserve - Coed Rheidol and the Coedydd a Cheunant Rheidol Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

When choosing subject matter for botanical art and illustration, it's certainly worth thinking long and hard about plants which botanical interest rather than those which are just pretty to look at.

The Margaret Granger Memorial Silver Bowl In memory of Margaret for the best picture by a member elected in the last two years.
  • Winner - Sarah Wood SBA for a body of work
Body of Work by Sarah Wood
Suzanne Lucas Memorial Award In memory of Founder President Suzanne Lucas
  • Winner - Billy Showell SBA - for her body of work

Body of work by Billy Showell

The President’s Award for work in other media Cash prize for work in media other than watercolour
  • Winner - Jacqueline Allwood for her work "Book of Judges: Branble, Olive, Vine and Fig" (set of four acid etched engraved and polished panels) - which you can also see on her website
"Book of Judges: Branble, Olive, Vine and Fig"
© Jacquline Allwood


These are sponsored by companies associated with art materials

Great Art Award
For an outstanding exhibit. The winner chooses £500.00 of materials from the Great Art catalogue
  • Winner - Amber Halsall for her body of work (including Strawberries for Tea - see below)
Strawberries for Tea

Derwent Award For an outstanding work in a pencil medium. The winner receives chooses £200.00 of materials from the Derwent catalogue
  • Winner - Elizabeth M H Coventry for her suite of four works in coloured pencil (107-110)
Palm No. 2 (Coloured pencil) by Elizabeth Coventry

St Cuthbert's Mill Award - Paper to the value of £100 for an outstanding watercolour painting.
  • Winner - Victoria Braithwaite for a body of work (numbered 44-47)
Victoria's work was acting as the "come over here and look at me" big pieces which the SBA always display on the back wall of the exhibition and very successful they were too!  These are LARGE works!
Peony, Canna House Garden (watercolour) £450
by Victoria Braithwaite
Globe Artichoke, Lisdisfarne Castle (watercolour) £2,275
by Victoria Braithwaite


There are daily demonstrations by SBA members working in a variety of different media used for botanical art. Those remaining are:
  • Monday, 12 May Billy Showell SBA Watercolour
  • Tuesday, 13 May Gaynor Dickeson SBA Coloured pencils
  • Wednesday, 14 May Margaret Eggleton SBA Watercolour/gouache
  • Thursday, 15 May Jill Winch SBA Graphite/pen and wash
  • Friday, 16 May Sue J Williams SBA Watercolour
  • Saturday, 17 May Maureen Jordan SBA Pastels
  • Sunday, 18 May Ann Swan SBA Coloured pencils

More information about Botanical Art

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  1. Great review Katherine, and I enjoyed spending time with you at the exhibition. You are very insightful. The labels are added if you are submitting something along the theme of the exhibition, eg: this year you were invited to write something about the habitat or where the plant was found. It's definitely worth putting thought into writing something down when you submit your work!

  2. Great review! This has provided me with so much invaluable information that I sadly didn't have access to this year as I was not in the country. Thank you Katherine for your admirable dedication and hard work in promoting botanical art.


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