An Exhibition and Expedition

Plants inside the Temperate House at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is an obvious destination for gardeners and plant lovers. But it can also be great day out for art lovers as well. The gardens have two permanent gallery spaces - the Marianne North and Shirley Sherwood galleries - and frequently exhibit sculptures and installations among the celebrated collection of plants too.

In the Marianne North gallery you will find a permanent collection of over 800 botanical paintings by the lady herself. As a woman who defied convention, North travelled the world on her own to make visual records of the tropical and exotic plants that captivated her. In contrast to her Victorian contempories, she liked to paint each species surrounded by the landscape in which she found them. The exibition is cleverly curated so that the paintings are displayed in geographical order so that you can witness the changing landscapes as you follow her journey.

The Shirley Sherwood gallery, on the other hand, is home to a unique collection of botanical art that celebrates the beauty of nature in exquisite scientific detail – from an age before photography until the present day. With a huge archive of over 20,000 Botanical Artworks, the exhibition is ever-changing and captures the endless variety of artistic responses to plants and fungi. Alongside these pieces from the collection, many important artists such as Margaret Mee, Rory McEwen, Rebecca Louise Law and Dale Chihuly have exhibited their own take on the floral world.

Photographing the Chihuly Glass at Kew Gardens

My niece and I were lucky enough to catch the Chihuly exhibition. The American Sculptor, who works in blown glass, treated the viewer to a spectacular display of glass in intricately twisted tendrils, voluminous tubers and gigantic petals. Some cascaded from the ceiling dancing in the light in the cathedral-like greenhouses whilst others nestled in the foliage like beautiful alien life forms.

Glass Installation by Dale Chihuly

Glass Installation by Dale Chihuly at Kew Gardens

Glass Installation by Dale Chihuly at Kew Gardens

Glass Installation by Dale Chihuly at Kew Gardens

Glass Installation by Dale Chihuly at Kew Gardens

Even on a slightly inclement day, we had great fun spotting these magestically wierd creations and documenting them as if we were plant hunters like Marianne. Photos of artworks courtesy of Ella, aged 8.

Taking pictures at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens, Kew, Richmond, London

Places for Art Lovers