Monday, June 09, 2014

RHS Exhibitions: Guidance and Regulations for submitting Botanical Art & Botanical Photography

The Royal Horticultural Society recently gave its website a massive overhaul. URLs have changed and some things went missing for a while - including the Guidelines and Regulations for submitting Botanical Art to an RHS Exhibition!

I wrote and asked what had happened and, as a result, the information has now been loaded. It's also been relocated out of the Shows area and into a section on Education and Learning and a subsection on Libraries. This is in part because the Picture Committee is no more and the function previously carried out by that Committee is now undertaken by the Picture Panel under the auspices of the Lindley Library and Arts Committee. So the website follows the organisational form of the RHS.

For those of you who want to enter your botanical art or botanical photography into the RHS Exhibitions I've detailed below where you can now find the information. You have until 25th June to submit work for assessment to the next meeting of the Picture Panel.

RHS Exhibition of Botanical Art

You have until 25th June to apply to be assessed to submit work for a future exhibition of 
Botanical Art in the RHS Lindley Hall
This is half of the 2014 Exhibition and the winner of the Best Exhibit in Show is in the foreground
(see RHS Botanical Art Show 2014 - Medal winners)
A very high standard of work is required in the exhibition of botanical illustration.

Emphasis is placed primarily on botanical accuracy with aesthetic appeal.

Individual artists or group exhibitors are allocated space at each show.

Exhibits must comprise a minimum of six pieces of art, preferably presented on a theme.
Interestingly the exhibition is referred to as being about botanical art whereas the introduction to the subject references it as being about botanical illustration. As botanical artists well know there is some considerable scope for debate about the differences between botanical art and botanical illustration!  It's certainly the case that Gold Medals awarded of late have had a very strong botanical theme.

This is the link for submitting botanical artwork to the Exhibition of Botanical Art.

Submissions are moderated. You cannot submit work for exhibition until your skills in botanical art have been assessed.
  • To submit your work for assessment, you need to send four original examples of mounted botanical illustration (unframed) should be sent to the Secretary of the Picture Panel, RHS Lindley Library, 80 Vincent Square, London SW1 2PE . 
  • Artists from overseas should send actual-size unmounted prints of their work.
  • The deadline for submissions for consideration at this meeting is Wednesday 25 June 2014.
  • The date of the next selection meeting is 9 July, 2014.
After you have been accepted as eligible for exhibition, you then have to apply for a space.

I cannot recommend too strongly that you do NOT apply until such time as you have got your themed project underway and have made sure you have  sufficient time to complete all six works prior to the date of the exhibition. You always want to make a good first impression - and you cannot afford to have any weak work.  Also be very careful about accepting an offer of space because somebody else has pulled out.  Do NOT under-estimate the amount of time required to put on a good presentation.  Gold Medallists always look like Gold Medallists - even from a distance!
Exhibitors who accept space but fail to stage an exhibit without giving the Society at least three weeks' notice will not be considered in the following two seasons, unless good reasons are given.

Click the link in the headings below to access the pdf files which you can download.

Guidelines for botanical artwork 

People have lost out on Gold Medals for failing to observe precisely aspects which are regarded as positive features of the artwork.
The following may be regarded as positive features in assessing an exhibit:
  1. Good draughtsmanship and, when applicable, good painterly skills
  2. That the depiction of plants or plant material is botanically accurate
  3. That each picture is well composed 
  4. That the space allocated in which to hang the pictures is well-filled without being overcrowded
  5. That the exhibit has an overall unity 
  6. That any written information is accurate and well presented and includes the Latin name 
  7. That any frames, mounts or other accessories used are appropriate in style, scale and condition 
  8. That the design of the display enhances the appearance of the drawings or paintings

Regulations for botanical artwork 

These are much more detailed as to the processes for application for space at an exhibition and how exhibits need to be presented - and what else you can have on your stand.
Consideration will only be given to works that are primarily of botanical interest, and paintings and drawings should be at least life-size.

Particular credit is given for botanical accuracy, exact colour reproduction and attention to detail. Higher awards tend to be given to exhibits illustrating a particular theme or plant family. Pictures are judged as a complete exhibit so that if one or two works are of a lower standard than the others with which they are shown, the level of award will be affected.

Gold Medals are only awarded to exhibits of outstanding and consistent excellence.
Interestingly the RHS comments about its own collection of Botanical Art that
Over the past 400 years approaches to the depiction of plants has altered according to latest scientific understanding, the buyers’ request and the intended audience. These variations in style are represented in our collection.
See also my blog posts:

RHS Exhibition of Botanical Photography

Gold Medal (2013) for a set of photographs of Lichens by Jan Cassidy Photograph
The process is very similar for the Exhibition of Botanical Photography which takes place annually at the October London Flower Show.

See my blog post RHS Gold Medal winning Botanical Photography for an example of another Gold Medal winning exhibit.
Exhibits must comprise a minimum of eight photographs presented on an horticultural theme. These can be plant portraits or scenes of garden
Clay Perry with his Gold Medal Winning exhibit in 2012
This is the link for submitting botanical artwork to the Exhibition of Botanical Photography.

Those wanting to exhibit must first submit to an assessment of their work and must also apply to exhibit. The first step is to contact the Secretary Lucy Waitt at the RHS Lindley Library, 80 Vincent Square, London SW1 2PE. Assessments and judging are made by the Photographic Advisory Panel.

There are detailed Guidelines and Regulations for Botanical Photography.  For further information see
All exhibitors must provide written information, which will also be judged for its accuracy and presentation. All plant names should be in Latin.
Whether or not you get the plant name correct - and write the Latin correctly - actually matters a lot!

More Resources for Botanical Artists and Art Lovers

You can find more resources about Botanical Art in my resources for artists websites: