Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Botanical artists should be 'Plant Hunters' too

Hanging Black Stick Lily (Xerophyta longicaulis) (Illustration: Gillian Condy)
The impression that animals and insects are intrinsically more interesting than plants is probably universal. After all, plants are static and ‘boring’ while the rest of the natural world seems dynamic and enthralling.
“Think again,” urges Neil Crouch. “You may be under an illusion created by a condition known as ‘plant blindness’.” The term ‘plant blindness’ was first introduced in 1998 by Wandersee and Schussler after years of discussion, literature searching, investigation and reportedly, ‘a fair amount of trepidation.’ They defined plant blindness broadly, including ‘the inability to see or notice the plants in one’s own environment, leading to the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere and in human affairs’.
Plant blindness also comprises an ‘inability to appreciate the aesthetic and unique biological features’ of plants and ‘the misguided, anthropocentric ranking of plants as inferior to animals, leading to the erroneous conclusion that they are unworthy of human consideration’. (Source: BioScience)
The above excerpt, from 'The Plant Hunter: An interview with Prof Neil Crouch' (available to read in the Kloof Conservancy's latest bi-annual magazine) should inspire us all to get out of our studios and into the wild so we too can learn about and see for ourselves the real story behind the plants we paint. Just one such artist is Gillian Condy, who has had the privilege of doing this over the course of her career with SANBI. Some of her paintings have been used to illustrate this most interesting interview.

To read the full interview click here.


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