Bulbmania - Flowers from the Kew Collection
Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, 28 August 2010 – 3 January 2011
The shimmering azure haze of an English bluebell wood, Wordsworth’s host of golden daffodils or the intense purple hues of Kew Gardens' own crocus carpet – few sights are more evocative of spring.
And when individual bulb flowers are examined more closely, they have their own delicate charms – chequered nodding fritillaries, highly scented lilies or intricately furled irises.
The beauty of ‘bulbs’ is celebrated in a new exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. Comprising over seventy paintings, the exhibition focuses on the different forms of one of the most useful yet stunning groups of plant. From onions and asparagus to tulips and lilies, we eat ‘bulbs’, admire them, and use them for medicine (snowdrops, Galanthus species, are used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s), but rarely appreciate just how diverse and important they are. This is a timely exhibition aimed to inspire and inform those looking to plant ready for next Spring.
Artists featured in the collection include the renowned Georg Dionysius Ehret who, born in 1708, was the most highly regarded botanical artist of his time, the prolific botanical artist Lilian Snelling, and, on a more contemporary note, the award-winning Pandora Sellars. Complementing these works are treasures from The Shirley Sherwood collection, ‘Bulbmania – Hidden Treasure’, which will include paintings by Coral Guest.
Back in the 17th century, 'bulbmania' took the form of extravagant prices paid for highly prized individual tulips in Europe. Until the middle of the 20th century, some wild bulbs were collected on an enormous scale, with entire populations of relatively common snowdrops (Galanthus species) and Cyclamen species being wiped out.
Today, there are tens of thousands of bulb species around the world, some of which have only been recently discovered, such as Gagea calcicola, from the lily family, identified by Kew and its partners in Iran. They are widely threatened by international trade for horticulture, agriculture, tourism and urban spread. Areas particularly at risk are those with Mediterranean or strongly seasonal climates, such as the Mediterranean itself, California, the Middle East or Central Asia. Some bulbs, such as snowdrops and Sternbergia, are protected by international laws such as CITES, and there have been steps to make their trade sustainable.
Kew itself is working hard to contribute to the conservation of bulbs, with a new post dedicated to researching their diversity and sustainability.
Professor Stephen Hopper, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, says, “This exhibition will allow visitors to see the splendour and richness of one of our most well loved plant groups. In the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity, Kew’s scientists, conservationists and horticulturists continue to combine forces to understand and conserve the remarkable diversity of bulbs and other plants.”
Accompanying Bulbmania will be an exhibition from the work of the Brooklyn Florilegium Society. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the group, which includes some of America's most respected botanical artists, the exhibition will show some of the many paintings created to document the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's living collections.
For more information please contact Jo Maxwell, Bryony Phillips, or Tarryn Barrowman in the Kew Press office on 020 8332 5607 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Opening times (until 29 August 2010): Monday - Friday: 9.30am - 6.30pm / Weekends: 9.30am - 7.30pm
- Opening times (30 August 2010 until 3 January 2011): Monday - Friday: 9.30am - 6.00pm / Weekends: 9.30am – 6.00pm
- Galleries, Glasshouses and Treetop Walkway all close an hour before the Gardens.
- Admission: Adults £13.50, Concessions £11.50, FREE for children under 17 (accompanied by an adult). Admission includes free entry to all Galleries, Glasshouses, and the Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway
- Contact: email@example.com or call 020 8332 5655
The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, opened in spring 2008, and is the first public gallery in the world dedicated to botanical art and open all year round. The gallery, designed by leading architects Walters and Cohen, exhibits precious works of art from the collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Dr Shirley Sherwood. It won the Civic Trust Award for architecture in March 2010.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew holds one of the world's greatest collections of botanical art, totalling over 200,000 items. Dr Shirley Sherwood holds one of the world's most comprehensive collections of over 750 contemporary botanical drawings from over 240 artists. The gallery adjoins the Marianne North Gallery, a display of botanical and landscape paintings by Victorian artist Marianne North. The gallery will be closed from 20 September to 30 November 2010 for some final restoration work on the building, and for rehanging. In June 2008, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £1,867,000, kick-starting a conservation project which began in July 2008 with the renovation of the Gallery building. The painting collection is currently being conserved and will be rehung by Spring 2011. More information here http://www.kew.org/collections/art-images/marianne-north/index.htm
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped 132 hectares and RBG Kew's country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract nearly 2 million visitors every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. RBG Kew and its partners have collected and conserved seed from 10% of the world's wild flowering plant species (c.30, 000 species) and aim to conserve 25% by 2020.
‘Biodiversity Year at Kew’ in 2010 will celebrate the importance of plant diversity in underpinning biodiversity through a programme of themed and seasonal horticultural displays, art exhibitions, educational activities for all the family and scientific announcements. For a full programme of events see www.kew.org/about-kew/press-media/index.htm or visit www.kew.org/biodiversity
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew