Dr Shirley Sherwood
Dr Shirley Sherwood travels extensively and has been collecting contemporary botanical illustrations since 1990. Her comprehensive collection from over two hundred artists, living in thirty different countries documents the emergence of a new wave of botanical paintings and the renaissance of their art form.
Did you know?
- Dr. Shirley Sherwood read botany at Oxford University.
- Her first important acquisition was an original watercolour of Laelia tenebrosa by Pandora Sellars.
- She has written many books on botanical art.
- Dr. Sherwood has organized many botanical art master classes in Orient-Express hotels.
- The Shirley Sherwood Collection has 800 works by contemporary artists.
Interested in plants and art since childhood, Dr Sherwood earned her undergraduate degree in botany from Oxford University, then her D. Phil. as part of the research team of Nobel Prize winner Sir James Black, whose group discovered Tagamet, one of the most successful drugs produced for the treatment for duodenal ulcers. In the 1980's Dr Sherwood joined with her husband, American-born and educated James Sherwood, founder and former chairman, Orient-Express Hotels, researching and restoring the Orient-Express train that travelled from Paris to Istanbul. In 1983, she wrote The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Return of the World's most celebrated train and for 24 years edited the Orient-Express Magazine which she founded in 1984.
Her books, Contemporary Botanical Artists and A Passion for Plants: Contemporary Botanical Masterworks, serve as catalogues to her premier collection of botanical art that she began in 1990 and which she has put on display in Scotland, America, Australia, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Italy, following the success of a first exhibition at Kew in 1996. The Shirley Sherwood Collection includes more than 800 paintings and drawings, representing the work of over 240 contemporary artists from 30 countries around the world. In 2003, she showed a hundred works at the Smithsonian in Washington which were visited by over half a million people. She had an exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in 2005 with a book entitled A New Flowering: 1000 years of Botanical Art.
The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art
Dr. Sherwood and her husband James Sherwood, her two sons and five grandchildren all supported the building of the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art which is the only purpose-designed and continuously open gallery in the world which is dedicated solely to botanical art. Her book Treasures of Botanical Art: Icons of the Shirley Sherwood and Kew Collections accompanied the first show in the new Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. She later curated The Art of Plant Evolution in the new gallery, and wrote a publication with W. John Kress to support the exhibition.
In 2010, Dr Sherwood worked alongside curators in Madrid Botanic Garden to bring drawings from the extraordinary Mutis Collection to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. The illustrations of plants from Colombia had never previously been seen by the public, and an accompanying book was published in association with the exhibition.
Dr Sherwood is on the board of the Smithsonian, Washington, is a Fellow of the Linnaean Society, was awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal by the Royal Horticultural Society in 2004 and is an Hon. Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford.
- Find out more about Dr Sherwood and her collection. 'The Art of Collecting' by Dr Shirley Sherwood from Kew Magazine Spring 2008
- Find out more about the planning and curation of Dr Sherwood's exhibition 'Portraits of Leaves and Fungi' in the Library, Art and Archives blog
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