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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.

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 – 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.

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.

An Evening Celebration of Orchids in Botanical Art

We’ll be hosting An Evening Celebration of Orchids in Botanical Art in association with the Dublin Orchid Fair at 6.30 pm Friday 20 April 2018, in the Visitor Centre of the National Botanic Gardens. The evening will feature a talk:

The RHS Orchid Committee and its artists: a history of the RHS orchid award paintings

A talk by Clare Hermans, Chairman of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Orchid Committee, author of many articles and co-author of Orchids of Madagascar and a research fellow of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. 

The talk was originally given at the World Orchid Conference held in Ecuador last November.

The talk will be followed by a wine reception and  a tour of:

Three Threads – of the orchid tapestry created by Frederick William Moore – an exhibition.

Organised by staff of the National Botanic Gardens, it features archival material from the Library at Glasnevin, orchid paintings by Deborah Lambkin (an ISBA member and official artist to the RHS’s Orchid Committee), and a collection of orchid portraits that celebrate Frederick Moore, painted by Margareta Pertl (also an ISBA member). The exhibition runs from Saturday 29 March to Wednesday 25 April.

Painting of orchid, Coelogyne mooreana, by Margareta Pertl

Coelogyne mooreana, by Margareta Pertl

There is no admission charge and all are welcome, but we would be grateful if those who wish to attend would email isba.committee@gmail.com and include the number of guests attending.

The Dublin Orchid Fair takes place Saturday 21st April and Sunday 22nd April and will be held in the Teak House at Glasnevin. This is the premier annual orchid event in Ireland, with a selection of species and hybrids for sale. It promises to be an exciting weekend for orchid lovers, gardeners and botanical artists alike.

Plandaí Oidhreachta, Heritage Irish Plants

The Irish Society of Botanical Artists and The Irish Garden Plant Society have joined forces in a project titled Plandaí Oidhreachta, which celebrates our Heritage Plants. It highlights the wealth of good Irish Garden Plants and celebrates the beauty of botanical illustration. In late 2016, the end product of the collaboration will be an exhibition of original paintings and the publication of an accompanying book.

The book will feature articles on a variety of plant themes that highlight Irish Garden Plants, especially those that have come into being since the year 2000. Our latest snowdrops, dahlias and sweet pea will be featured along with primroses, iris and daffodils, as well as other groups of plants, including garden plants selected from the native Irish flora.

As of August 2016, much of the work is complete: the paintings are finished and scanned, the sections on different plant groups have been written, and the design and layout of the book are well underway. If you’d like to find out more, including how to order a copy of the book, which will be published late this year, click here.

The book is now available to purchase online, please click on the following link Heritage Irish Plants: Plandaí Oidhreachta.

A Call to Arts: ISBA Foundation Meeting, 1 March 2014

tussilago
On 1st March 2014 at 11:00am, the Foundation Meeting for the Irish Society of Botanical Artists will be held in the Visitor Centre of the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin. Anyone with an interest in becoming a member of this new Society, either as an artist or a friend, is invited to attend the Foundation Meeting.

The Society aims to facilitate interaction among those interested in botanical art in Ireland, to foster and inspire their creative development, and raise the awareness of botanical art.
Botanical art is the merging of science and art in the depiction of plant life, and is enjoying a resurgence in recent years. There is a growing number of practicing artists and aspirational beginners in Ireland, and the proposed new society has arisen from this trend.

In anticipation of its official foundation, the group has laid the groundwork for its inaugural exhibition, “The Irish Alphabet in Botanical Art”. The exhibition will first open for public viewing on 2 May 2014 at the National Botanic Gardens, and then travel to The Playhouse in Derry from 11-24 August, and on to The Waterfront in Belfast from 2-25 September. By joining the new Society, members will have the opportunity to support this and similar projects in future.

Full Membership (Fee: €50)
Entitles you to sit on committee (once resident in Ireland), vote (once in attendance at meetings), exhibit in Society exhibitions*, participate in Society events, pay less to attend events organised in conjunction with other bodies and to receive the Society’s yearly publication.
* Participation in exhibitions organised by the ISBA is a benefit of membership but may incur an additional cost to artists. These costs can include, but are not exclusive to, postage, framing, hanging, invigilation etc.

Friend Membership (Fee: €25)  
Entitles you to participation in Society events other than exhibitions and to receive the Society’s yearly publication.

As some people may not be able to attend the meeting, or if you want to arrive with paperwork completed, a Membership form in PDF format can be downloaded from the bottom of this page. All who have signed a membership form and paid the appropriate fee by close of business on March 1 2014 will be considered Founding Members of the Irish Society of Botanical Artists. This can be done on the day paying by cash or cheque, posted previous to the meeting at the address above or by using Paypal (please see instructions on membership form).

For further information, please email Jane Stark at info@irishbotanicalartists.ie.

membership_form

 

Hip Operation

So, the nights are drawing in … next week the ISBA will meet to see how the ‘Hot Petals’ challenge (set by Holly Somerville earlier in the summer) worked out and also to set a new challenge for the coming months. But as the weather cools and the evenings close in, what’s a botanical artist to do for inspiration?

Arum maculatum berries by Jane Stark

Arum maculatum berries by Jane Stark

The flowers of summer may be gone, but the Anemones and Michaelmas daisies are blooming still in our gardens, providing plenty of challenge for those who want to try their hand at the paler end of the spectrum or especially the  whites and botanical greys (if you choose Anemone japonica ‘Honorine Jobert’ for example).

The flowering heads of the ornamental grasses (Miscanthus spp., Molinia caerula and lots more) are shimmering in the autumn light – not easy, but very graceful subjects.

But if working in colour is your thing, or the ‘Hot Petals’ challenge has left you wanting to do more with intense colours, then remember that Autumn is harvest time! And so many of the hips and haws and seeds ripening now will provide plenty of delightful subjects for those with a need to wield paint or pencil as the season changes. So get out there with eyes wide open and your sketchbook at the ready.

You might discover the bright orange berries of Arum maculatum (Cuckoo pint) under the trees of your local woodland as Jane Stark did earlier this month.

Or if you’re in the mood for some foraging, you’ll be checking the hedgerows for brambles: you can always paint the blackberries at all stages of ripeness before you go on to eat them in delicious crumbles or jams. Here’s what Yanny Petters did with hers:

BLACKBERRY2_web

Bramble/Blackberry/Rubus fruticosa by Yanny Petters

conker_isba

‘Conker’ (Aesculus hippocastanum) sketch by Fionnuala Broughan

You could always head out with your children (or borrow someone else’s!) to collect conkers and practise textures: the spiny, sometimes mottled case providing one challenge, the shiny chestnut inside another. This year seems to a be a great one for beech masts and again the spiny cases with their contrasting velvety lining are a good textural challenge! You can always reward yourself after a good drawing with the little triangular nuts inside.

But what artist wouldn’t love to get their hands on the rose hips, the haws and the rowan berries that make our hedgerows glow with vermilion and scarlet and garnet.

Rosa_glauca_hips

The intense red hips of Rosa glauca contrast nicely with the glaucous foliage. (Photo by Bernard van Giessen)

 

 

There probably aren’t too many practising artists reading this who haven’t taken up their brushes to capture the intense reds, satiny textures and gorgeous shapes of rose hips. But some of you might like to try rendering them in a medium you haven’t tried for a while. For those of you who work in watercolour who’d like a change in pace, or for those (like me)  just starting out, here’s a tutorial (in English) by Dutch artist Sigrid Frensen on how to draw rose hips in coloured pencil.

 

 

And finally–and always–there’s composition, when you move from the freedom of your sketch book to the rigour (and terror, for some) of the Blank White Page. Here’s an exquisite and inspiring gathering of rose hips, holly berries, sloes and haws by Holly Somerville:

Autumn fruits by Holly Somerville

An autumnal gathering – hips, haws, holly berries and sloes – by Holly Somerville

Whatever challenge you set yourself–colour, texture, new medium, composition–enjoy the work, and who knows, it might well tie in with the next ISBA project: you’ll hear more about this at next Thursday’s meeting if you’re there, or afterwards by email. Do tell us in the Comments section below how you’re getting on. Comments have to be approved (trying to keep the spammers at bay) so don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up straight away.

Thanks to Jane Stark, Yanny Petters, Bernard van Giessen and Holly Somerville for their contributions, and to Sigrid Frensen for the link to her tutorial.

Events

Sceitse, Sketchbook Exhibition

[Sketchbook page by ISBA Member Loredana Geninazza]

A celebration of Irish gardens, a celebration of botanical art.

What lies behind the beautiful illustrations and artwork produced by today’s botanical artists? How much time and research goes into a particular plant portrait? Come to the Visitor’s Centre at the National Botanic Gardens to see for yourself! In 2019, ISBA artists spent time in gardens all over the country and recorded their research, their drawings, their colour-matching skills and their test compositions. We’ve compiled these sketchbook pages into a unique exhibition that provides insights into how botanical portraits are made.

As well as the sketchbooks, which are for exhibition only, the participating artists will have small works on display and for sale.