Botanical illustration is alive and well

September 11, 2011

Magnolia bud by SigridBluebells by Sigrid

When I was in Kew Gardens during my recent UK trip, I stumbled into an exhibition of contemporary botanical illustration. It was unexpectedly fresh, and I was so pleased to see that many of the artists were young. It did me good to know that this art getting new life breathed into it by young artists.

So yesterday at a plant fair I attended, I was especially pleased to discover Sigrid Frensen, a young botanical artist. We had a really nice chat about our work (including my harpsichord decoration which I guess is a form of botanical illustration) and her recent participation in a show of botanical illustration in London. Her mother joined the discussion about how there is more appreciation for this art form in England than in Holland. Here, as with other craft skills, this is looked down upon by some in the art world. But if you see the contemporary work being done in this field, you’ll notice renewal and innovation.

What I value about botanical art are the patience and skills needed to render a plant accurately, but more than these, the ability to get inside the spirit of the plant and make it come alive.

I spoke to an artist at the fair who, in keeping with the general opinion here, also rather dismissed botanical illustration as a lesser art form. But I feel that slowly people here will come to appreciate it as a branch of art/craft worthy of respect and attention. I find it an exciting field, and am looking forward to seeing Sigrid’s art develop. She is active in promoting the skill and is one of the founders of the Dutch Society of Botanical Artists.

You can see her site here (Dutch). And her blog (English) has a lot of good examples of her work, worth a look, for sure.

Bluebells by Sigrid

4 Responses to “Botanical illustration is alive and well”

  1. This was great to read! As an artist who does all different types of subjects, I have recently been comparing my work and thinking that my “plant studies” (as I call them) are some of my strongest paintings, but I have been hesitant to enter them into competitions until recently when I entered a piece onto an online competition. I have been very pleased with the response from the general public (people can vote for pieces they like), but we will see how the judge views it.

  2. Hi Sarah! So nice to write such lovely words about me and my work. It’s a wonderful blog and feel honoured you featured me. Someone spotted this post and put a link to it on the Botanical Artists group on Facebook.
    It was nice to chat with you in Eenrum. I hope we’ll meet again someday. ;))

    • szoutewelle Says:

      Hey Sigrid,
      glad you stopped by, and thanks for the kind words about my blog. Cool that someone linked this to your Botanical Artists group on Facebook.
      That is one more ‘link’ in a strong chain of artists committed to maintaining high craft values.
      I was inspired by our meeting and hope to see you again too.

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