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Botanical Art in the 21st Century

8 February 2014 to 11 August 2014

Featuring work from Italian artists never previously exhibited in the UK as well as paintings from 'Overleaf' by Susan Ogilvy, and 'Magnolias' by Barbara Oozeerally.


The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art


FREE with admission to the Gardens

Paintings of roses by Regine Hagedorn

Paintings of roses by Regine Hagedorn

About the exhibition

This new exhibition, Botanical Art in the 21st Century, celebrates the remarkable, worldwide renaissance of botanical art today. Recently acquired works in the Shirley Sherwood Collection illustrate both traditional and new painting techniques. The exhibition demonstrates the breadth and depth of botanical art, where fresh approaches and technical advances are changing the idea of what botanical art is about.

Botanical Art in the 21st Century is a modification of an exhibition mounted last year in Pisa, Italy, in the Museo della Grafica, called Botanical Art into the Third Millennium. Alongside the Shirley Sherwood Collection there will be a selection of recent works by Italian artists on display, some of which were painted specially for the Pisa show and many have never been exhibited in the UK before.

Many of the artists in the exhibition from the Shirley Sherwood Collection were born from 1950 onwards and a few only came to botanical art very recently. These artists are continuing a very long tradition of botanical art and this exhibition illustrates how artists are using different media and new techniques to develop the genre into the 21st century. Artists such as Beverly Allen, Sarah Graham and Sue Herbert are painting either life-size or vastly magnifying subjects and other artists in the exhibition are developing the design and compositions of their paintings.

These new practices are exhibited alongside paintings using more established techniques and more traditional in their approach. Examples include works on vellum by Rory McEwen and Kate Nessler and copper-plate etchings coloured by Bryan Poole, using the technique a la poupéein, in a similar fashion to that of Joseph Pierre Redouté.

Many areas of botanical art are undergoing exciting changes and this new exhibition aims to showcase how exciting the future is for botanical art.


The exhibition is accompanied by Magnolias by Barbara Oozeerally, which is on display until 3 August 2014. 

To accompany the exhibition Kew Publishing in association with the Royal Horticultural Society have published Magnolias in Art and Cultivation, with over 150 botanical paintings by award winning artist Barbara Oozeerally capturing the magnolia in breathtaking detail and described by botanical art collector Dr Shirley Sherwood as ‘an extraordinary series of important and beautiful plant portraits’.

Along with the paintings is the informative text by Jim Gardiner, Director of Horticulture at the Royal Horticultural Society, and Stephen A. Spongberg, Curator Emeritus of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and Director Emeritus of the Polly Hill Arboretum. The text provides a variety of information about magnolias and their cultivation, covering all hardy species and around 100 hybrids and cultivars, together with full botanical descriptions. This truly unique volume will be sought after by gardener and artist alike.

Magnolias exhibition

Buy Magnolias in Art and Cultivation at Kew's online shop



A third exhibition in the gallery, Overleaf, features a selection of paintings by award-winning botanical artist Susan Ogilvy, delicately depicting a range of leaves, selected from trees across the temperate regions of Europe and North America. The display is designed to accompany the book of the same name, Overleaf, by Richard Ogilvy and Susan Ogilvy, which is published by Kew.

Buy Overleaf at Kew's online shop