A new exhibition and a community art project - find out what's coming up next in Kew's galleries!
Marianne North and Joseph Hooker – a gallery for the nation
November sees the opening of Joseph Hooker: Naturalist, Traveller and More at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art in the centenary year of his death. Hooker’s life is celebrated in this new exhibition which highlights his career as a botanist and plant hunter alongside his family and personal connections. Amongst his notable acquaintances was Marianne North, who spent many years travelling to exotic and remote parts of the world painting the flora and fauna she encountered. Throughout her journeys Marianne remained in contact with Kew, a place she used to visit with her father and where Sir William Hooker first introduced her to specimens she could study. In turn she depicted a number of plants that were previously unclassified, some of which now carry her name, notably the Nepenthes northiana which was unknown to western science until she painted it during her visit to Borneo and Java in 1876. In her diary Recollections of a Happy Life Marianne explains:
"I painted a portrait of the largest (pitcher plant), and my picture afterwards induced Mr. Veitch to send a traveller to seek the seeds, from which he raised plants and Sir Joseph Hooker named the species Nepenthes Northiana."
Pen and ink portrait of Sir Joseph Hooker by T. Blake Wirgman (1886)
It was her longstanding acquaintance with Kew and Sir Joseph Hooker which enabled her to "leave something behind which will add to the pleasure of others" in the form of a gallery to display her donated works. On 11 August 1879 she says:
"... having missed a train at Shrewsbury one day and having some hours to spare, I wrote off to Sir Joseph Hooker and asked him if he would like me to give them to Kew Gardens, and to build a gallery to put them in, with a guardian's house. I wished to combine this gallery with a rest-house and a place where refreshments could be had tea, coffee, etc."
A busy Marianne North Gallery
Her gallery opened to the public in 1882 and although Marianne didn’t get the tea and coffee she had wished for, she did receive a letter personally signed by Queen Victoria acknowledging her generosity and ‘gift for the nation.’
Community art project - ‘Psyche’
The Marianne North Gallery is enjoyed by visitors and researchers alongside schools and community groups. This summer as part of her role as Community Outreach officer at Kew, Jana Haragalova has been working with a number of groups on a special collaborative art project inspired by Marianne’s life and travels.
Colourful artwork in progress!
Guided by artist Sofie Layton, members from Feltham Arts, the Avenue Club and young people from the Marjory Kinnon School participated in a series of creative workshops. These explored a range of wax batik and screen printing techniques to produce colourful leaves and butterflies which will be combined to create a sculpture evoking the spirit of the Victorian adventurer. Titled the ‘Psyche’, it will be displayed in the entrance of the Marianne North Gallery from November and in the Temperate House in early 2012.
Detail of batik leaves to be used in the sculpture
This project is part of Kew’s Community Outreach & Engagement programme which is made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It complements other sessions including the interactive Travelling Trunk workshops where participants have the opportunity to handle unique Victorian objects and learn about life and travelling in the 19th century as well as ESOL gallery visits. For further information about how to request a gallery workshop or a Community Outreach visit, please contact Jana Haragalova at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 8332 5696.
- Joanne and Sian -
- Find out more about the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art and the Joseph Hooker: Naturalist, Traveller and More exhibition
- Learn about Kew's community outreach programme and forthcoming events
- Discover the Marianne North Gallery and the recent conservation project for the paintings
- What's On at Kew - exhibitions
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