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  6. Art of the Plant: National exhibition of botanical art opens at Canadian Museum of Nature

Art of the Plant: National exhibition of botanical art opens at Canadian Museum of Nature

Ann Love @ Ann Love


Watercolour and gouache painting of Yellow lady's-slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum Salisb.) by Ann Love (King, Ontario).

Ottawa, May 10, 2018—The beauty and intricate details of Canada’s native plants are featured in a new national exhibition of botanical art at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Art of the Plant includes 48 drawings and paintings by Canadian contemporary botanical artists, and was developed as part of an international collaboration with the American Society of Botanical Artists.

The exhibition, which runs for five months until October 14, 2018, complements botanical art shows opening this May in five Canadian cities and in 24 other countries around the world. On May 22, the International Day of Biological Diversity, a slide show presenting 900 of these botanical artworks from the international exhibitions will be unveiled at Art of the Plant.

“Experiencing the diversity of plants through art is an inspiring way to connect with the natural world,” says Meg Beckel, CEO and President of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “We’re delighted to feature some of Canada’s premier botanical artists as part of this international collaboration about plant diversity.”

The works in Art of the Plant are presented by geographic region across Canada. The art is created by hand, using time-honoured, traditional techniques of drawing, painting and printmaking. The plants represented cover life history stages from newly-germinated to dead or dying and include trees, shrubs, lichens, mushrooms and wildflowers, as well as several species at risk in Canada such as the Cucumber Tree and southern Ontario’s Prickly Pear Cactus. There are even six works depicting orchids. A geographical range map, and the common and scientific names are displayed with each artwork.

“The Art of the Plant exhibition is a defining moment for botanical art in Canada. Collaborating with the other 24 countries involved in this global event is breaking new ground for us all,” says Kerri Weller, Exhibition Chair for Art of the Plant, and a noted teacher of botanical art in Ottawa. “Through this project, we hope to bring attention to the importance of native plant biodiversity and conservation, as well as today’s renaissance in botanical art.”

A jury that included scientific review by museum botanists selected 26 of the pieces on display. The remaining 22 were invited from Canadian artists who have been recognized by the renowned Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

During the run of the exhibition, the Art of the Plant team will present monthly guided tours for the public on Wednesdays (May 30, June 13, July 11, Aug. 8 and Sept. 12), as well as talks and tours for seniors (Aug. 22, Sept. 19 and Oct 4), and drawing workshops for seniors (June 27, July 25, Aug. 29, Sept. 26). There will also be a public talk about botanical art on October 4. Full details at nature.ca.   

Admission to Art of the Plant is included with regular museum admission. The Canadian Museum of Nature is located at 240 McLeod Street, Ottawa. Visit nature.ca for hours and fees. Follow the museum on Twitter (@museumofnature), Instagram (museumofnature, and Facebook.com/canadianmuseumofnature.

Facts about Botanical Art:

·         Botanical art portrays plants with both scientific accuracy and artistic expression. Contemporary botanical art grows from long established traditions, integrating the history of art and the sciences of botany, horticulture, medicine and agriculture. 

·         Botanical illustration emphasizes the scientific record and botanical accuracy to enable identification of a plant.

·         Botanical art emphasizes the aesthetic value of the plant or flower and is botanically accurate but does not necessarily include ALL the information required by botanists (e.g. roots, seeds, stems, leaves).

·         Artwork is frequently in colour on a plain background. It may also include a record of the plant growing in its natural habitat.

·         Floral painting is not considered botanical art. This style of painting may be more impressionistic and the focus is neither plant identification, botanical accuracy nor education.

Some plants featured in Art of the Plant:

·         wildflowers (e.g., Woodland Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Wild Strawberry, Canada Wild Ginger, Wild Columbine), trees (western hemlock, white pine), shrubs (Staghorn Sumac, American Mountain Ash), lichens (Boreal Felt Lichen, a Canadian Species at Risk from Atlantic Canada), mushrooms (e.g. yellow-footed boletus)

·         Species with broad ranges (e.g. Narrow-leaved Cottongrass, native to every province and territory) and those with very limited Canadian distribution (e.g. Garry Oak, known in Canada only from extreme southwestern British Columbia)

·         Orchids (e.g., Fairy Slipper, Yellow Lady’s Slipper, Showy Lady’s Slipper)

About the Canadian Museum of Nature
The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6 million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic website, nature.ca.

Information for media:
Laura Sutin
Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.698.7142 (cell)

Dan Smythe
Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613-566-4781; 613-698-9253 (cell)