Two exquisite botanic art exhibitions coming soon
“These two striking exhibitions celebrate the fine tradition of botanical art in Australia, from early 19th century watercolours to contemporary artworks, and reveal the extraordinary plant life abundant across Sydney and New South Wales,” said Mark Goggin, Executive Director of Sydney Living Museums.
Opening on 30 July 2016, Florilegium: Sydney’s Painted Garden showcases a remarkable collection of contemporary botanical paintings that illustrate some of the most significant plants in the history of the living collections of the Royal Botanic Garden & Domain Trust.
The exhibition celebrates a renaissance in botanic art with over 80 exquisite paintings from more than 60 international and Australian artists. Visitors will be able to view up close the painstaking detail of familiar indigenous Australian plants and common garden flowers as well as more unfamiliar exotic species from Asia, the Americas, Africa and Europe.
The beautiful and precise works evoke an ongoing cycle of growth, reproduction, decay and renewal so familiar to garden lovers. Florilegium portrays the imperfect beauty of nature in minute detail, from the insect-chewed leaves of the Eucalyptus robusta or the wilted buds of Iris delavayi to the splendid flowers of the Dendrobium speciosum and vibrant Camellia azalea.
Florilegium is the result of over 10 years work by the Florilegium Society, formed in 2005 to create this unique collection in time for the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s 200th birthday. The collection of paintings reveals the lasting influence of the botanic gardens on the private gardens, public parks and landscapes of NSW since 1816.
The Gardens were central to the establishment of agriculture, commerce and horticulture in NSW in the early 19th century, and to collectors such as William Macarthur, who established a nursery at Camden Park, and Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay, who developed a substantial private garden at Elizabeth Bay.
The fragrant Magnolia grandiflora, now a familiar plant in Sydney, was introduced to NSW by William Macarthur in the 1830s, and was growing not only in the Royal Botanic Garden but also in large private gardens by the early 1840s. Vaucluse House in the eastern suburbs reputedly grew one of the largest magnolias in the colony, its striking flowers and dark foliage providing a dramatic border to the pleasure garden of William Charles Wentworth where he also grew exotic plant species from across the world.
Alongside the Florilegium exhibition will be The Artist & the Botanical Collector: the Lost Works of Lovegrove & Baüerlen, opening on 13 August 2016.
The Artist & the Botanical Collector explores the partnership between amateur Shoalhaven-based artist Gertrude Lovegrove (1859-1961) and botanical collector William Bäuerlen (1840-1917) and their ambitious endeavour to produce a multi-part publication called The Wild Flowers of New South Wales in the late 19th century.
Originally intended to be published in 25 parts, part 1 of The Wild Flowers of New South Wales was published in Sydney by Angus & Robertson in January 1891. Plans for further parts in the series never eventuated and only a handful of copies of the first part are known to be held in Australian public collections.
The exhibition will feature a collection of over 30 original wild flower watercolours by Lovegrove, prepared as illustrations for the lost Bäuerlen publication. These paintings are now held in Sydney Living Museums’ Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection at The Mint.
As well as exploring the partnership between Lovegrove and Bäuerlen, including their connections to Meroogal, a Sydney Living Museums property at Nowra on the NSW south coast, the exhibition will also provide a brief survey of the range of wildflower publishing in colonial Australia.
“We are delighted to present these two exhibitions as part of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s 200th birthday. Enthusiasts of both art and gardens will enjoy exploring the rich and intricate detail within these extraordinary botanical paintings,” said Mark Goggin.
Exhibition Florilegium: Sydney’s Painted Garden - 30 July to 30 October 2016
The Artist & the Botanical Collector - 13 August to 20 November 2016
Where Museum of Sydney, on the site of first Government House
Cnr Bridge and Phillip streets, Sydney
Cost Free with general museum admission
Adult $10, Concession/child (under 15) $5, Family $20, Members free