The Botanical Art World Wide Exhibition, taking place from 17 May – 2 June in Rosebank, Johannesburg, is an international collaboration involving botanical artists from around the world.
We chatted to Chairperson of the Botanical Artist Association of South Africa (BAASA), Gillian Condy to find out more.
Tell us about the exhibition?
This will be the first time a group of countries and botanical art associations around the world have collaborated in an exhibition. Twenty-five countries across six continents will be holding simultaneous shows and celebrating the Worldwide Botanical Art Day on the 18th May 2018. The South African exhibition is one of the largest with works by 83 artists, and one of a few to be held in a commercial gallery. We are excited to be bringing botanical art back to the Everard Read Gallery after an 18-year gap.
What role do you play as Chairperson of BAASA and how did you get involved?
I used to work for the South African National Biodiversity Institute as the resident botanical artist, and was in contact with most of the country’s top artists. Many of them had never met in person, so I set about organizing a botanical artists’ workshop back in 1990. This was followed with another in 1998. We realized it was time to set up our own association, which we launched in 1999. I was in charge of the Gauteng chapter and I have been heavily involved since then. BAASA celebrates its 20th anniversary next year.
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What is your intention with this exhibition?
I want visitors to feel invigorated and aesthetically satisfied by the quality of work and intrigued by the diversity of our indigenous flora. When studying the fine detail, it is often like seeing a plant for the first time. The artist spends days and months studying a plant at close range, developing a connection with their subject and getting to know the plant in all its forms.
What is the biggest misconception people have of this form of art?
For many centuries, the purpose of botanical art was to assist in the identification of plants. The illustrations were considered scientific records and not necessarily appreciated for their beauty.
What is your favorite plant in your garden right now?
I live in a small townhouse with a postage stamp, predominantly indigenous garden which overflows into the complex property. I don’t have very green fingers, plants grow despite me. Right now, there are some very colourful Gladiolus dalenii in flower.
Complete the sentence, “My dream garden would have…”
….some beautiful gnarled trees covered in lichen, maybe a few epiphytic orchids. Rocks, I love big rocks. And a small stream running over the rocks.
What is the most exciting thing about hosting this event?
Sharing the experience with botanical artists from across the globe. South Africa has several world-renowned artists who are not well recognised in this country. This exhibition will help showcase their enormous talent, continuing a long tradition of superb botanical artists.