Margaret Mee (1909 – 1988)
Margaret Mee made a significant contribution to the worlds of science
and conservation. She was both botanical artist and conservationist.
Unusually, the drawings that she made of the plants she
studied in the Amazon were skilfully executed whilst on
location. Her many paintings, just over 400 in total, were
sketched in pencil and then painted with gouache. Significantly,
some of the species that Mee was able to paint in their natural
habitat had not been identified before. In addition, some
of the floras, including the species Neoregelia
margareteae, are only known scientifically through her
detailed botanical illustrations.
It took 24 years of exploring and painting before she was able
to faithfully record Selenicereus wittii (Cactaceae) or
"Moonflower" because it only bloomed at night. During
her years of travelling in the remote Amazon, Mee's consternation
grew in terms of how the area and thus all of its flora would remain
protected. Her conservationist attitude was mirrored in her illustrations,
as she began to include the natural habitat in the background of
the paintings, her hope being that by including the natural habitat,
this would emphasise the interdependency between plant and environment.
Her diaries have been published recently in a new book, Margaret Mee's Amazon: Diaries of an Artist Explorer, available at kewbooks.com
Search for Margaret Mee Watercolours
The Margaret Mee Foundation in Brazil is seeking original watercolours