First botanical art picture accepted by Chelsea Physic Garden

I am so excited. I got a letter in the post today to tell me that my first picture has been accepted by the Chelsea Garden Florilegium, without needing to be adjusted in any way. On top of that, the comments from the Kew Botanists who evaluated the work, were pretty good too – that made the acceptance even more special.

I applied to and was accepted as a member of the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium in the middle of last year; full membership is limited making membership even more exciting. The intention of membership is to document all the plants that are in the Chelsea Physic Garden. As you can imagine, there are thousands, so it will take a long time.

For the privilege of being a full member, everyone is meant to submit a picture each year, of one of the plants in the garden. Of course, a plant needs to be chosen that is not already in the archives. As I became a member half-way through the year I was in reality excused from painting a picture until 2016, but those who know me know I like a challenge.

I painted the Fuchsia microphylla. As the name suggests the leaves are minuscule, as are the flowers, although I was surprised by the size of the fruit. Except for the pen & ink habit drawing, which is life-size, the rest of the painting is on a larger scale. Once the scale of anything is increased, the colours become much more intense. Anyone who has looked through a microscope to see the detail of grey-looking grass, will know how intense the multitude of colours is in reality. The Fuchsia microphylla was painted enlarged because it was so tiny and I wanted to convey its real beauty.

I have posted the picture before, but here it is again, now as part of the archives of the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Fuchsia microphylla from Chelsea Physic Garden, in watercolour with ink.
Fuchsia microphylla from Chelsea Physic Garden, in watercolour with ink.

The Norwegian Society for Botanical Artists – newly founded today!

This has been a very eventful day. As a result of the visit to Kew Gardens today, and a serious discussion there inspired by exhibits in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, we decided to found the Norwegian Society of Botanical Artists – Den Norske Foreningen for Botaniske Kunstnere.

My friend Tone Minde from Norway lives on the south coast in a town called Arendal. She is a garden designer with a special interest in botanical art. She like me, has tried to find other botanical artists or even an organisation that has some interest in this subject in Norway. The only thing that either of us found, were organisations in relation to gardens, mountains, botany and the environment, but nothing in relation to botanical art or illustration. So we decided to try and do something to plug this obvious gap.

I am aware that there are a couple of illustrators living in Norway and attached to botanical gardens in the country.

I know that botanical art has been neglected for many years in some countries. In the UK it has become very popular, as it has in North America, South Africa and Australia, and parts of mainland Europe. It was brought home to us today at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery that Norway is being left behind.

There were three different exhibitions today at the gallery, including one from the Dutch Society of Botanical Artists formed within the last ten years. It was interesting to note that their aims included:

To provide information about botanical art and to bring it to the attention of as wide a public as possible.

To bring together botanical artists, illustrators and anyone interested in botanical art.

To improve the quality of botanical art in the Netherlands.

We would like to promote botanical art in Norway in the same way as has happened in other countries so that our children can learn to look and see and portray the beauty and the detail in the Norwegian landscape.

We are looking for like-minded people to join the group with the intention of developing an interest in studying and painting Norway’s beautiful flora. Do get in touch so that we can tell you more.

Last year I made a start on bringing more botanical art to Norway. I ran a successful workshop on painting Norwegian plants, in Åsgårdstrand in south-eastern Norway. This attracted two Norwegians, one American, one German and four British people. Following the popularity of last year’s event, I will run another workshop in Norway this June. Full details are on my website http://www.gaynorsflora.com.

Tone and Gaynor outside the Orangery at Kew today, after deciding to form the Norwegian Society for Botanical Artists.
Tone and Gaynor outside the Orangery at Kew today, after deciding to form the Norwegian Society for Botanical Artists.
Capturing crocii on camera to take home to the Norwegian winter.
Capturing crocii on camera to take home to the Norwegian winter.
Tone Minde - admiring the crocus display at Kew.
Tone Minde – admiring the crocus display at Kew.