Young Botanical Artist Competition winners celebrated at Kew Gardens this autumn
Friday 20 October 2023 to Sunday 7 April 2024, Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, Kew Gardens
Release date: 24 October 2023
Winners of the inaugural Young Botanical Artist Competition to be celebrated in new exhibition
Competition held by The Shirley Sherwood Collection in collaboration with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Works by artists aged 16-25, inspired by trees
Unique showcase of the next generation of botanical artists
Gallery entry included in Kew Gardens general admission; £1 Universal Credit ticket and £9 young person's ticket available
From October, Gallery 6 of Kew Gardens’ Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art will showcase 50 shortlisted artworks from the inaugural Young Botanical Artist Competition.
Created by The Shirley Sherwood Collection in collaboration with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the competition was open exclusively to entrants aged 16-25, and offers a unique opportunity for the next generation of botanical artists to showcase their work in a gallery setting.
The overall winner of the 16-18 age group award is 17-year old Marianna Zych from Poland. Her watercolour painting Prunus serrula was created as her first-ever botanical artwork following just one month of painting classes. The overall winner of the 19 – 25 category is Khanh Ly Nguyen from Vietnam, whose watercolour Bauhinia variegata leaf showcases the intricate detail of this stunning tree. The competition proved enormously popular around the world, with over 1,000 entries from 77 countries. The final selection of 50 artworks were submitted by artists from 17 countries, including Brazil, India, Japan, Uzbekistan, and Indonesia. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to vote for their favourite artwork and a People’s Choice award will be announced in April.
The selection of shortlisted artworks was made by a panel of esteemed judges, including contemporary botanical artists from around the world and curators from Kew’s galleries, with the panel searching for botanical artworks that represented their subjects creatively, but with scientific accuracy. Botanical paintings and drawings have long been used to further our understanding of plants and fungi, particularly given that it is an art form capable of recording minute details which are often more accurate than a photographic record. As we work to better understand and preserve our planet’s biodiversity, botanical art continues to play a vital role in helping to record and observe countless species the world over.
Dr Shirley Sherwood OBE says: 'I couldn’t be more thrilled with the standard of the entries we received for our inaugural Young Botanical Artist competition and I’m grateful to my daughter-in-law Rachel Sherwood for bringing the initiative to life. It’s been fascinating to see such a broad range of responses to the competition and to have received so many entries from across the world. To see first-hand the next generation of talented botanical artists coming to the fore is enormously inspiring.'
Maria Devaney, Galleries and Exhibition Leader at RBG Kew adds: 'Although often thought of as very traditional in style, at its heart botanical art is all about innovation, discovery and nurturing the innate curiosity about the world we share. It's been wonderful to see such an enthusiastic response to the competition as a whole, and it's fantastic to be able to celebrate the achievements of the shortlisted entrants with this special exhibition.'
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is dedicated to harnessing the power of plants and fungi to end the extinction crisis and secure a future for all life on Earth. With Kew’s world-leading research, global partnerships and beloved gardens – home to the world’s most diverse collections of plants and fungi – Kew is using its trusted voice to shape policy and practice worldwide. As a charity Kew relies on the critical support of its visitors, not only to sustain the gardens, but to protect global plant and fungal biodiversity for the benefit of our planet and humanity.
Admission to the exhibition is included in a ticket to Kew Gardens. Pre-booking online offers the best value visit.
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Notes to Editors
About the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world-famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections and scientific expertise in plant and fungal diversity, conservation, and sustainable development in the UK and around the globe. Kew’s scientists and partners lead the way in the fight against biodiversity loss and finding nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, aided by five key scientific priorities outlined in Kew’s Science Strategy 2021-2025. Kew Gardens is also a major international and top London visitor attraction. Kew’s 132 hectares of historic, landscaped gardens, and Wakehurst, Kew’s Wild Botanic Garden and ‘living laboratory’, attract over 2.5 million visits every year. Kew Gardens was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 260th anniversary in 2019. Wakehurst is home to the Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world and a safeguard against the disastrous effects of climate change and biodiversity loss. RBG Kew received approximately one third of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needs to support RBG Kew’s vital scientific and educational work comes from donors, memberships and commercial activity including ticket sales. For tickets, please visit www.kew.org/kew-gardens/visit-kew-gardens/tickets. In the first six months since implementing a new accessibility scheme for those in receipt of Universal Credit, Pension Credit and Legacy Benefits, Kew has welcomed over 30,000 visitors with £1 tickets.
About the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art
Located at Kew Gardens in London, the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art is the world’s first display space dedicated solely to this genre. Since it was opened in 2008 by Sir David Attenborough, the gallery has held over 50 exhibitions, welcomed almost two million visitors, and become the hub of the worldwide renaissance of botanical art. Dr Shirley Sherwood OBE studied botany at Oxford University before starting the Shirley Sherwood Collection in 1990. Thirty years on, the Collection includes over 1,000 paintings and drawings, representing the work of more than 300 contemporary botanical artists from 36 countries around the world. The collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has been a resounding success, with the gallery showcasing a huge diversity of botanical art, raising the profile of the genre and the plants it portrays. Its walls have seen paintings by renowned artists such as Margaret Mee and Rory McEwen, and collections from Brazil, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Japan, Australia, and the USA. As well as displaying pieces from the Shirley Sherwood Collection, the gallery hosts a roster of genre-pushing exhibitions by independent artists including the intricate graphite drawings of the UK’s oldest oak trees by Mark Frith, an immersive installation by British artist Rebecca Louise Law, and sculptures by Dale Chihuly and David Nash. Recent artists on display in the gallery have included Jan Hendrix, Andrew Parker, Zadok Ben-David, Pip & Pop and Anila Quayyum Agha.