Kew Gardens has to be one of my most favourite places in the world. I've exhibited, visited and painted in the gardens but up until this point I have never stepped foot inside the Library. However the Arts Council supported project 'Botanical Bentley' has provided the perfect excuse to delve into the archive! This week I had the great pleasure of browsing Kew's Art Collection.
Below is a sample of some of the exquisite botanical illustrations that I came across during my visit. All by women artists from the late 18th / early 19th century, these detailed drawings and annotations have been beautifully painted in ink and watercolour. It must have required great concentration to create such accurate illustrations - the detail is completely fantastic. And I can only imagine how exciting it would have been to study a species entirely new to man! This was the time, of course, when the world was discovering exotic plants from around the world and 'Britain was in the full grip of a plant obsession'. These artists were responsible for capturing essential information that ensured that the each plant was categorised correctly, which was such an important role and easily be forgotten when admiring the beauty of these works of art.
Images reproduced with kind permission of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.