Irish botanical art at the National Gallery of Ireland this Spring

Free exhibition Drawn from Nature opens on 7 March 2020

Drawn from Nature: Irish Botanical Art opens at the National Gallery of Ireland on 7 March 2020 and runs until 21 June 2020. Admission is free.

Pioneering Irish artists are at the heart of the National Gallery of Ireland’s new free exhibition Drawn from Nature: Irish Botanical Art. From William Kilburn to Lady Edith Blake, the exhibition celebrates artists who made significant contributions to art, science, and our understanding of the natural world.

Curated by Patricia Butler (Guest Curator), assisted by Janet McLean (National Gallery of Ireland), Drawn from Nature features art spanning almost 300 years, from the 1720s to 2019. Contemporary artists include ISBA members Mary Dillon, Shevaun Doherty, Deborah Lambkin, Siobhán M. Larkin, Margareta Pertl, Yanny Petters, Susan Sex, Jane Stark, Lynn Stringer and Holly Somerville.

A volume of designs by William Kilburn (1745-1818) will be on display for the first time in Ireland as part of the exhibition. One of the most eminent calico printers of the 18th century, Kilburn was born on Capel Street in Dublin and later settled in London.

Works by painter and geologist George Victor du Noyer (1817-1869) will also be on display, including studies of mushrooms and apples which he documented for the Ordinance Survey and the Geological Survey.

painting of apples by George Du Noyer

George Victor Du Noyer (1817-1869)
Engl. King. King. Musk. Turnip. Black annat. Winter Rose, 1837
Courtesy of the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin

Over 15 women artists are highlighted in the exhibition, including Ellen Hutchins, known as Ireland’s first female botanist. Hutchins discovered many seaweeds and mosses before her death in Cork at the age of 29.

Many of the drawings, watercolours, prints, and books will be on display for the first time at the National Gallery of Ireland during the exhibition. Works from public and private collections include selections from the National Botanic Gardens (Glasnevin), National Museums Northern Ireland, Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew) and the V&A (London).

Janet McLean of the National Gallery of Ireland commented:

While many Irish botanical artists ventured across the world, others barely stepped beyond their townlands. This exhibition highlights how they are bonded by a common curiosity in nature and a compulsion to record it.

It celebrates centuries of looking closely, drawing carefully, and treasuring the complex beauty of plants.

Guest curator Patricia Butler, author of Irish Botanical Illustrators & Flower Painters, on which this exhibition is based, commented:

There is currently a vigorous revival of interest in botanical art worldwide and this exhibition pays tribute to the extensive and distinctive Irish contribution to the area. I hope that visitors to the Print Gallery in the National Gallery of Ireland will enjoy exploring the work of over 30 artists ranging from the relatively unknown to the widely acclaimed.

See nationalgallery.ie for more details and check our calendar of events on this website for two interesting talks related to the exhibition: Talk & Tea: Irish Botanical Art and Irish Contributions to Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.

New year, new decade, lots of news

We’re well into 2020 already – a new year and a new decade. Our Sceitse/Sketchbook project is going well and the hand-in day has been planned to coincide with our AGM on 21 March. Visit our project page for updates.

Members, don’t miss the AGM, when our guest speaker will be Yanny Petters who’ll talk to us about her working methods for making her paintings on glass.  The Shirley Sherwood Gallery, in Kew Gardens in London, is currently running an exhibition called Modern Masterpieces of Botanical Art which includes Yanny’s life-size portrait, on glass, of a teasel!

In April we’re delighted to host Sarah Morrish who will travel over from the UK to provide two one-day workshops to members on Pen and Ink methods in botanical illustration.

Also in 2020, the National Gallery of Ireland is holding an exhibition called Drawn from Nature, which provides an interesting historical perspective on botanical art in Ireland over the centuries, right up to contemporary work (including some ISBA members):

Take a closer look at Irish botanical art in Drawn from Nature. Spanning almost 300 years, artists include William Kilburn, Ellen Hutchins, George Victor Du Noyer, Lady Edith Blake and Wendy Walsh. These pioneering men and women have made significant contributions to art, science and our understanding of the natural world. Inspired by Patricia Butler’s book Irish Botanical Illustrators and Flower Painters, the exhibition features prints, drawings and illustrated books from public and private collections in Ireland and the UK.

Curator | Patricia Butler (Guest Curator), assisted by Janet McLean (National Gallery of Ireland)

Sceitse: November Update

We hope you had a lovely summer and that you’ve all been busy working on your sketches for our latest project!

Get-together 23 November 2019

If you’d like to get together with other members, meet up for coffee, or if you have some questions about the Sketchbook Project, you can meet with members of the Sketchbook Committee and the ISBA Committee for chat and advice in the Curvilinear room from 2.30 to 4.00pm.

Sketchbook key dates!

Pages for sketchbooks are to be handed in at our AGM which will probably be held in March 2020.

We have a date pencilled in for the Sketchbook exhibition: it will be held in November 2020 in the National Botanic Gardens. This exhibition will showcase the botanical artist’s sketchbook.

Small works at the exhibition

As you know members who participate in the Sketchbook project will also be invited to hang one piece of finished work at the 2020 exhibition. The work should be no larger than 500mm x 550mm framed.

Sceitse/Sketchbook – updates

All members should have received updated guidelines for our Sceitse project through the post. We’ve also added these guidelines to our Sceitse project page and you can find a link there to download and print them too.

Sceitse/Sketchbook – our new project: Workshop supports

Our new project is underway and all members have been informed through our AGM and in correspondence since. We held one workshop for members in the Spring, given by ISBA member Noeleen Frain (many thanks for Noeleen for a great day!) and we’re holding another now in early Summer: Claire Ward comes to us from Wales and will conduct a workshop in the National Botanic Gardens Curvilinear Room on Thursday 16 May. The cost is €35 and places are limited to 12. There are still some places available, check the event listing for more details, including how to apply.

Opportunities for ISBA members

Spring is in the air, and along with the lengthening days and warmer temperatures, we’re receiving new opportunities for ISBA members.


Firstly, the call is open for entries to Botanical and Floral Art at Bloom. The deadline is 29 March 2019. You can keep up to date on Facebook or on the Bloom website.


We’ve been contacted by a number of different organisations/galleries here in Ireland with queries about possible collaboration. Below we’ve listed three such opportunities. We’re leaving it up to members to contact any of the organisations themselves. If you do decide to contact them and all goes well, do let us know!


Old Weir Lodge Hotel, Killarney – Contact: Niall O’Donoghue
email: info@oldweirlodge.com
This is a small hotel in Killarney which is currently being renovated.  They would like to feature some prints of native plants on their corridor walls. Ideally the prints would be similarly sized (approx A3 portrait or square).


Excel Exhibition Space, Tipperary – Contact: Carissa Farrell
email: carissafarrell@tipperary-excel.com
Carissa is the Venue Director of the Excel in Tipperary Town which has a gallery and would be very interested in holding a group botanical art exhibition in 2019.


Shanbally House and Gardens – Herb Dispensary
Also in Tipperary, Shanbally House and Gardens is currently under restoration. As part of their work they plan to create a small herbarium and they would like to collaborate with botanical artists–who have an interest in medicinal herbs–to create some artwork that will showcase in the house, can be sold in the house and made into cards/notepaper etc. They would like the artwork to complement the work they are doing of growing, promoting, preserving and processing these healing plants. We’re in contact with Shanbally House at the moment with a view to their providing a tour for interested members in the summer. Once dates have been arranged, we’ll announce the event here on the website and will be in touch directly via our members’ email list.

A busy summer!

Our Éireannach exhibition was scarcely over when the 6th Annual Botanical and Floral Art Exhibition took place.  The exhibition was, as always, held in the Visitor Centre in Phoenix Park, at the heart of the Bloom in the Park festival. Well done to all who entered, many of whom were ISBA members, and many thanks to Éanna Ní Leamhna who opened the exhibition in such style! You can find out more at the Botanical & Floral Art in Bloom Facebook page. Congrats to all who exhibited and to the medal winners! You can see the list of awards here, and you can read a review of the medal winners on the Botanical Art and Artists blog here.

Éanna Ní Leamhna and Elaine Moore Mackey at the opening of Botanical and Floral Art in Bloom exhibition

A selection of the paintings

 

 

… and more of the paintings, some from as far away as South Korea!

When the Bloom exhibition closed, many of the paintings headed over to the Claregalway Botanical Art Expo, held in the beautiful setting of Claregalway Castle, during its annual Garden Festival. Many thanks to the ISBA members who ferried paintings safely across the country in both directions!

A bright room in a medieval castle – a lovely space of a Botanical Art Expo

Botanical Art of a very high standard featured in the expo

Summer activities were rounded off with a stand at the RHSI  Summer Garden Show at the end of July, which didn’t leave a lot of time before our Autumn activities start, with two workshops in August and another in October. See our Calendar for more details.

Botanical Art Worldwide and Éireannach

Our exhibition ran in the National Botanic Gardens for three weeks, we held a very successful Open Day on the 18th, we published a beautiful and informative book, Éireannach, to accompany the exhibition, we ran videos of the other exhibitions from around the world…  to read more and see selected moments from the celebrations, visit the update on our Botanical Art Worldwide page.

AGM, Orchids, Éireannach, Courses, Bloom… Busy Times!

March and April have been very busy times for the ISBA; our AGM in March saw our chair for the last two years, Jane Stark, step down, passing the baton (or should that be the paintbrush) to Lynn Stringer. Jane didn’t sit back though as she has spent most of her time since then on the design, layout and typesetting of the book that will accompany our Botanical Art Worldwide exhibition: Éireannach: Celebrating Native Plants of Ireland. To find out more about the progress of the project, and how to buy the book, check the latest update on our Éireannach project page.

April sees us hosting An Evening Celebration of Orchids in Botanical Art , part of a series of orchid events at the National Botanic Gardens in April, including an exhibition of paintings by Deborah Lambkin and Margareta Pertl, both ISBA members. Check out the event on our calendar page.

If all these events have whetted your appetite to learn more about the practice of Botanical Art, two of our members are providing tuition in two very different locations in April and May. Yanny Petters will hold a two-day course in Wicklow in April and Jane Stark a five-day course in the Burren in May.

May will see our Éireannach exhibition open on the 5th, with an open day on the Worldwide Day of Botanical Art on the 18th.

And in June, there will be an exhibition of Botanical Art at Bloom. Those who submitted their work for this exhibition should hear by the end of April whether their submissions have been accepted.

Éireannach artists and plants announced

Many thanks to our judges who worked hard to choose the paintings for the upcoming Éireannach exhibition, part of Botanical Art Worldwide. The judges have chosen 48 plants, painted by 43 artists.

Many thanks too and well done to all the artists who have taken part in the project so far. We have a lovely array of native Irish plants that will feature in the exhibition and the accompanying book, including such treasures as the Large-flowered Butterwort, which features in a painting by Holly Somerville:

Painting of large-flowered butterwort by Holly Somerville

Large-flowered Butterwort, Pinguicula grandiflora, Leith uisce, by Holly Somerville

Here is the list of selected works, sorted alphabetically by the last name of the artists. We’ve repeated the list below, sorted by common name of the plant in English. You can also download the list as a PDF.

Artist Plant, English Plant, Latin Planda, Gaeilge
Hazel Beehan Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre Feochadán corraigh
Janet Bockett Marsh-marigold Caltha palustris Lus Buí Bealtaine
Fionnuala Broughan Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna Sceach gheal
Ann Burn Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa Lus na gaoithe
Heather Byers Cowslip Primula veris Bainne bó bleachtáin
Marcella Campbell Great Willowherb Epilobium hirsutum Lus na Tríonóide
Michael Campbell Bloody Crane’s-bill Geranium versicolor Crobh stríocach
Giulia Canevari Hazel Corylus avellana Coll
Grainne Carr Elder Sambucus nigra Trom
Betty Christie Wild Carrot Daucus carota Mealbhacán
Janet Colgan Creeping Jenny Lysimachia nummularia Lus an dá phingin
Janet Colgan Navelwort Umbilicus rupestris Cornán caisil
Jo Cummins Shepherd’s Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris Lus an sparáin
Diane Davison Ash Fraxinus excelsior Fuinseog
Sally de Bromhead Red Clover Trifolium pratense Seamair dhearg
Marie de Lacy Clancy Crab Apple Malus sylvestris Crann fia-úll
Mary Dillon Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum Féithleann
Shevaun Doherty Common Knapweed Centaurea nigra Mínscoth
Noeleen Frain Ragged Robin Silene flos-cuculi Lus síoda
Noeleen Frain Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis Magairlín na stuaice
Niamh Harding Miller Hart’s tongue Phyllitis scolopendrium Creamh na muice fia
Tim Hatatip Thrift Armeria maritima Rabhán
Ann Kane Bird’s-foot-trefoil Lotus corniculatus Crobh éin
Mary Killion Wild Pansy Viola tricolor ssp. Tricolor Goirmín searraigh
Tara Lanigan O’Keeffe Sea Bindweed Calystegia soldanella Plúr an phrionsa
Siobhan Larkin Bramble Rubus fructicosus Dris
Sarah Lewtas Sea Holly Eryngium maritimum Cuileann trá
Claudia McManus Rowan Sorbus aucuparia Caorthann
Sandra McTurk Strawberry-tree Arbutus unedo Caithne
Ida Mitrani Sessile Oak Quercus petraea Dair ghaelach
Elaine Moore Mackey Foxglove Digitalis purpurea Lus mór
Elaine Moore Mackey Round leaved Sundew Drosera rotundifolia Drúchtín móna
Patricia Morrison Guelder-rose Viburnum opulus Caor chon
Helen Noonan Bush Vetch Vicia sepium Peasair fhiáin
Rita O’Mahony Primrose Primula vulgaris Sabhaircín
Yanny Petters Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca Sú talún fiáin
Oonagh Philips Maidenhair Fern Adiantum capillus-veneris Dúchosach
Liz Prendergast Blackthorn Prunus Spinosa Draighean
Nayana Sandur Common Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii subsp. fuchsii Nuacht bhallach
Susan Sex Marsh Helleborine Epipactis palustris Cuaichín corraigh
Joy Shepherd Tufted Vetch Vicia cracca Peasair na luch
Helen Simmons Harebell Campanula rotundifolia Méaracán gorm
Holly Somerville Large-flowered Butterwort Pinguicula grandiflora Leith uisce
Jane Stark Lords-and-ladies Arum maculatum Cluas chaoin
Jane Stark Common cotton grass Eriophorum angustifolium Ceannbhán
Lynn Stringer Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria Airgead luachra
Lynn Stringer Yellow Horned-poppy Glaucium flavum Caillichín na trá
Alison Walker Water Avens Geum rivale Machall uisce

 

Plant, English Artist Plant, Latin Planda, Gaeilge
Ash Diane Davison Fraxinus excelsior Fuinseog
Bird’s-foot-trefoil Ann Kane Lotus corniculatus Crobh éin
Blackthorn Liz Prendergast Prunus Spinosa Draighean
Bloody Crane’s-bill Michael Campbell Geranium versicolor Crobh stríocach
Bramble Siobhan Larkin Rubus fructicosus Dris
Bush Vetch Helen Noonan Vicia sepium Peasair fhiáin
Common cotton grass Jane Stark Eriophorum angustifolium Ceannbhán
Common Knapweed Shevaun Doherty Centaurea nigra Mínscoth
Common Spotted-orchid Nayana Sandur Dactylorhiza fuchsii subsp. fuchsii Nuacht bhallach
Cowslip Heather Byers Primula veris Bainne bó bleachtáin
Crab Apple Marie de Lacy Clancy Malus sylvestris Crann fia-úll
Creeping Jenny Janet Colgan Lysimachia nummularia Lus an dá phingin
Elder Grainne Carr Sambucus nigra Trom
Foxglove Elaine Moore Mackey Digitalis purpurea Lus mór
Great Willowherb Marcella Campbell Epilobium hirsutum Lus na Tríonóide
Guelder-rose Patricia Morrison Viburnum opulus Caor chon
Harebell Helen Simmons Campanula rotundifolia Méaracán gorm
Hart’s tongue Niamh Harding Miller Phyllitis scolopendrium Creamh na muice fia
Hawthorn Fionnuala Broughan Crataegus monogyna Sceach gheal
Hazel Giulia Canevari Corylus avellana Coll
Honeysuckle Mary Dillon Lonicera periclymenum Féithleann
Large-flowered Butterwort Holly Somerville Pinguicula grandiflora Leith uisce
Lords-and-ladies Jane Stark Arum maculatum Cluas chaoin
Maidenhair Fern Oonagh Philips Adiantum capillus-veneris Dúchosach
Marsh Helleborine Susan Sex Epipactis palustris Cuaichín corraigh
Marsh Thistle Hazel Beehan Cirsium palustre Feochadán corraigh
Marsh-marigold Janet Bockett Caltha palustris Lus Buí Bealtaine
Meadowsweet Lynn Stringer Filipendula ulmaria Airgead luachra
Navelwort Janet Colgan Umbilicus rupestris Cornán caisil
Primrose Rita O’Mahony Primula vulgaris Sabhaircín
Pyramidal Orchid Noeleen Frain Anacamptis pyramidalis Magairlín na stuaice
Ragged Robin Noeleen Frain Silene flos-cuculi Lus síoda
Red Clover Sally de Bromhead Trifolium pratense Seamair dhearg
Round leaved Sundew Elaine Moore Mackey Drosera rotundifolia Drúchtín móna
Rowan Claudia McManus Sorbus aucuparia Caorthann
Sea Bindweed Tara Lanigan O’Keeffe Calystegia soldanella Plúr an phrionsa
Sea Holly Sarah Lewtas Eryngium maritimum Cuileann trá
Sessile Oak Ida Mitrani Quercus petraea Dair ghaelach
Shepherd’s Purse Jo Cummins Capsella bursa-pastoris Lus an sparáin
Strawberry-tree Sandra McTurk Arbutus unedo Caithne
Thrift Tim Hatatip Armeria maritima Rabhán
Tufted Vetch Joy Shepherd Vicia cracca Peasair na luch
Water Avens Alison Walker Geum rivale Machall uisce
Wild Carrot Betty Christie Daucus carota Mealbhacán
Wild Pansy Mary Killion Viola tricolor ssp. Tricolor Goirmín searraigh
Wild Strawberry Yanny Petters Fragaria vesca Sú talún fiáin
Wood Anemone Ann Burn Anemone nemorosa Lus na gaoithe
Yellow Horned-poppy Lynn Stringer Glaucium flavum Caillichín na trá