Celebrating “100 blooming years” Kirstenbosch and the Botanical Society of South Africa are enjoying a momentous landmark year.
The Botanical Art Biennale from August 30 to September 15 will be taking place in the Conference Centre at Kirstenbosch, the Centenary event showcasing top South African botanical artists as well as artists from different parts of the globe.
Focusing on medicinal and traditional use plants of southern Africa, (including plants used for food, shelter, decoration, adornment, health, devotional rituals and rites of passage) the quality of entries this year have surpassed all expectations. The symbiotic relationship between the plant and animal kingdoms and the plethora of uses of plants, highlight the vigilance required if the sustainability and long-term harvesting potential of these limited resources is to be ensured.
The 2013 exhibition is the seventh since its inception in 2000 and the extraordinary artistic challenges that confront artists in this genre are apparent in the intricate detail presented in the artworks.
From fine monochrome pencil drawings to delicate watercolour, the media used by the artists range from copper etchings and scraperboard through to pastel, pen and ink. Whatever the medium used, the ability of the artist to bring these plants to life in their truest form is remarkable. Whilst the paintings are complex the viewer is drawn to the simple beauty of the plants and to the fact that these same plants have inspired many generations of botanical artists to record with extraordinary accuracy the wealth of the southern African flora.
International artists Kath Baker and Leigh-Ann Gale (UK,) Suzana Souza (Brazil) and Suellen Perold (USA) add interest to the line-up of exhibitors. Well-known artists such as Eric Judd, Solly Gutman, Carol Reddick and Gillian Condy are joined by first time exhibitor Ann Kerr, while visitors should delight in the fine renditions from Jenny Hyde- Johnson, Jeanette Loedolff, Wilna Eloff and Lisa Strachen. Many more feature in the more than 50 artist line – up.
An additional highlight is the work of Cape based Margaret de Villiers, who recently won a gold medal and best on show at the annual Royal Horticultural Society’s Botanical Art show in London.
The selection process of artworks submitted is rigorous. Artists are judged on the botanical accuracy of their work, on composition and on the overall cohesiveness of the four works each artist submits.
The panel of judges who determine the awards of gold, silver and bronze medals consists of botanists, horticulturalists, botanical artists and art specialists. The botanists involved in this year’s judging panel are Dr John Manning (who is also a published botanical artist) and Dr John Rourke.
The other judges are Vicki Thomas, a renowned botanical artist with the distinction of having her work in Prince Charles’ florilegium; Christopher Peter, from the Irma Stern Museum; Graham Duncan, senior horticulturalist at Kirstenbosch, Sally MacRobert, curator of the Brenthurst Library and Collection in Johannesburg and Vulindlela Nyoni, senior lecturer at the Stellenbosch University Fine Arts Department where he lectures in drawing and printmaking.
* Visit www.sanbi.org.za for more information.