Friday, 8 May 2015

Watercolours and photographs of wildflowers

Viper's Bugloss at Burham, Kent
Image: D. Steere
Paintings and photos of plants can be very helpful for botanists keen to improve their ID skills, as well as being beautiful in their own right. So, many thanks to both Cambridge botanist Monica Frisch, who sent the details below about an art exhibition in Cambridge, and also to Kent-based wildlife enthusiast and amateur photographer David Steere, whose images can be seen both on Twitter and on his wildlife blog. He kindly provided the images of Viper's Bugloss which grace this page. 

Monica said "A wonderful exhibition of botanical art has just opened at Clare Hall in Cambridge, with a focus on the special plants of the Breckland. As botanists know, the Breckland, an area of dry sandy heath in East Anglia, is one of the richest botanical hotspots in the UK with an assemblage of specialist plants not found elsewhere in the UK. 

Echium vulgare var, albiflora from Dungeness, Kent
Image: D. Steere
"Many are very tiny and easily overlooked, while others may be larger but very rare. A group of East Anglian artists have been working for the past three years to paint the wild flowers of the Breckland. Some of their paintings are now on display at Clare Hall until 24th June 2015.

"Most are watercolours, of great beauty and accuracy, showing the details of the plants, such as the hairs on Viper's Bugloss or the individual flowers of Military Orchid. 

"The advantage of paintings over photographs is that all the extraneous clutter of leaves, grass and other plants can be omitted, allowing the individual plant to stand out and be admired in all its glory. 

Viper's Bugloss from Larch Wood, Detling, Kent
Image: D. Steere
"While the paintings of the Breckland plants are not for sale, because it is hoped that the collection will be published, the exhibition also contains many other equally attractive botanical paintings. 

"At the opening on 7th May, John Parker, former Director of Cambridge Botanic Garden, gave a brief introduction to the Breckland and explained how valuable high quality botanical art is to the scientific understanding of plants. 

"Brief botanical notes accompany all the pictures. If you are anywhere near Cambridge it is well worth visiting. The Clare Hall Gallery is open daily from 9am to 6pm and the Iceni Botanical Artists exhibition is on until 24th June 2015".

Thanks again to Monica and to David. If you know of any exhibitions of botanical art, whether paintings or photographs, please email me at louise.marsh@bsbi.org so I can share them here.