Wednesday, 28 May 2014

From Betty’s Bay to Transylvania via London

A botanical art trip of a lifetime 
By Vicki Thomas


The day after arriving in London, I found myself in the upper storey of Hampton Court Palace, about to give a workshop to a group of botanical artists working on a Florilegium … creating a visual record of some of the plants in the Palace. Looking out of the window I could see large topiarised trees and formal gardens that were established for Henry VIII. Two days earlier I had been looking out at the mountains and the fynbos of my own garden in Betty’s Bay. It was pretty surreal. The subject of the workshop was “Focus” and after we had discussed the ways artists have created areas of interest in their paintings, I went to each artist to discuss what they were currently working on. The English artists have a very fine sense of detail and generally their work is technically excellent. In comparison, our South African botanical artists have a rather bold approach to our work, which may not be quite as fine, but sometimes has more vitality. We can both learn from one another.

I certainly learned a lot in the next stage of my journey, the main reason for the trip ...


A group of artists was selected to paint flowers growing in the meadows of Transylvania, Romania, where farming methods have not changed in centuries, resulting in a healthy and diverse population of indigenous flora. We were looked after completely for two weeks, all we had to do was paint.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Living in our cracks

A new exhibition starting in Cape Town celebrates all the small plants living in our cracks in the urban environment. The opening is on Thursday 29 May 6 - 8pm, and the exhibition will later be open Tuesdays to Thursdays 10am - 4pm.

BAASA artists are welcome to visit the exhibit at Cape Baptist or online at and express the photographs into different forms of art. Their artistic expressions will be welcome to form part of the exhibit.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Touch of Madiba magic for flower show entry - Cape Times article

Article by Rebecca Jackman that appeared in the Cape Times, May 13 2014 at 10:37am

DIVERSITY: The SA Biodiversity Institute's exhibit for the Chelsea Flower Show
features four habitats unique to South Africa. Photo: Bheki Radebe

THE second half of about a ton of plant material will land in London today, ready to be assembled as the South African Biodiversity Institute’s contribution to the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show.

Designers of the exhibit, David Davidson and Raymond Hudson, travelled to London on Saturday, before the second delivery, with a team including two horticulturists, the South African Biodiversity Institute’s marketing director and a group of South African volunteers.

The team will be hard at work putting together their 10m by 10m masterpiece with the theme “In Harmony with Nature” for the flower show taking place in London from May 20 to 24.

The plants came from the institute’s nine gardens in South Africa, including Kirstenbosch, the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden near Joburg and nurseries around the country.

Davidson and Hudson have designed the Kirstenbosch-South Africa exhibit for 21 consecutive years, achieving 17 gold medals in that time.

This year’s design features “South Africa’s rich biodiversity and its intrinsic wealth of design ingenuity”, with four habitat types including the “enchanted” forest inspired by the “boomslang” – Kirstenbosch’s new canopy walkway, the savanna, the Cape’s fynbos region and a “pristine ecosystem” showing South Africa’s biodiversity in the “web of natural life”.

The exhibit also pays tribute to Nelson Mandela with a pixel-portrait on a stone memorial wall created from dry protea flower head rosettes.

Andrew Jenkins was part of the team responsible for cleaning, sorting and packing plants at Kirstenbosch yesterday after they were inspected and cleared for travel.

He has worked in the seed room there for seven years and has been involved in the Chelsea Flower Show planning every year during that time.

“We made sure everything is just right,” he said.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Interview with RHS winner Lynda de Wet & some useful info when planning to exhibit - from the MAKING A MARK blog

Interview with Lynda de Wet

Lynda de Wet with her Gold Medal and the painting purchased by the RHS
you can clearly see in this painting the three elements to her artwork
coloured painting of specimen, graphite background featuring the host
and array of botanical dissections along the bottom
Lynda de Wet started botanical art in 1999 although she graduated with a degree in art from the Michaelis School of Art at University of Cape Town in 1972. She now lives in the Western Cape of South Africa and regards herself as a flower painter.


She's produced a collection of 960 original watercolours just for the purposes of identifying different plants and flowers. They're all botanically correct but very simple. They're all housed with a herbarium pressing and the GPS of where they were seen and collected in a conservation centre on a farm.

Her website is a mine of information about the parasitic plants she portrays. This is a woman with a passion for her subject matter! More......

Certificates of Botanical Merit at SBA Annual Exhibition 2014

Read on to discover the artwork and artists which were awarded Certificates of Botanical Merit in the 2014 Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists.

Botanical merit, as we have seen in the RHS shows, is of particular importance when it comes to botanical art.
Part of the RHS Botanical Art Show 2014
That's why the Certificates of Botanical Merit are held in such high esteem. It's also no coincidence that winners of CBMs are often people who have already won an RHS Gold Medal as well! More.........

15 Top Tips for presenting work at an RHS Botanical Art Exhibition

There are two important aspects of artwork in the RHS Botanical Art Exhibition - the artwork and its presentation. The latter is very important - as discussed below.
Primula vulgaris (watercolour) by Angela Martin SBA
Poor presentation will certainly lose you marks and downgrade the level of medal that might be achieved by the paintings exhibited.

So here are 15 top tips culled from the Gold Medal winning exhibitors this year (and in previous years). More.........

Floratheca: A digital library for plant education

Drawing of Victoria regia showing details of flower and leaf structure (University of Warsaw Botanic Garden)

Antique drawings meet digital technology: Marcin Zych and Krystyna Jędrzejewska-Szmek describe how digitising a collection of over 30,000 botanical illustrations at the University of Warsaw Botanic Garden is giving them a new lease of life and supporting taxonomy lessons for the 21st century. For more go to Page 19 of Roots 11(1) by clicking here.

Friday, 9 May 2014


Phyllostachys virdis by Ann Schweizer
Shirley Sherwood Collection
It is with deep sadness that we note the death of one of our illustrious members - Ann Schweizer - who passed away a few days ago.

Ann obtained a degree in Art and English from Rhodes University, studied Practical Fine Art with Maurice van Essche in Cape Town and then achieved a degree in Archaeology from UCT. She was the resident artist for the South African Museum of Natural History for many years. Ann exhibited in every Kirstenbosch Biennale where she was awarded three gold medals and one silver. Her work has been exhibited in the Smithsonian in Washington DC, Tryon Gallery, London and Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, UK. Some of her paintings are housed in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew. She has work in Shirley Sherwood's books A New Flowering, Treasures of Botanical Art and The Art of Plant Evolution.

Rest in peace Ann.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Cadmium in Crisis

Cadmium in Crisis!

There is a possibility that Cadmium Pigments will be banned by the EU.
The authorities concerned, however, are currently assessing the situation and taking on comments from the public.
We know that a ban would affect many of our customers so we are writing to you in the hope that you can help us raise awareness of this issue and we are asking as many artists as possible to visit the ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) website to give their opinions on the use, unique characteristics and handling of these special paints.
Below is an article written by our friend Michael Craine, from Spectrum Paints, who expains all the issues. We invite you to read his article before passing comment on the ECHA website.

Michael Craine - Spectrum Paints

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Colour Imaginable in an 800-Page Book

In 1692 an artist known only as "A. Boogert" sat down to write a book in Dutch about mixing watercolors. Not only would he begin the book with a bit about the use of color in painting, but would go on to explain how to create certain hues and change the tone by adding one, two, or three parts of water. The premise sounds simple enough, but the final product is almost unfathomable in its detail and scope.