The forthcoming exhibition at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art will reveal how - from the creation of the original ‘physic’ garden in 1759 to its position today as a UNESCO World Heritage site and world-class research establishment - Kew has been a source of inspiration.
As part of the exhibition Laurence Hill’s Fritillaria, A Family Portrait, will be on display, 80 species shown life-sized in one continuous 10 metre long image. The sequence in which the plants are represented is based on the most up-to-date genetic research from Kew’s Jodrell Laboratory.
Gallery Talk at 14:00 on October 8 and November 5, 2014
Most botanical art is about detail but this image is also about scale. The genetic study was very large, both in the number of samples and its geographic range but research also requires an intimate understanding of its subject. In presenting the research in this visual way the viewer has to contend with these conflicting requirements, to stand back or get in close. There were other benefits in presenting a large number of systematically photographed closely related species. Many visitors looked beyond the genetic study and investigated other aspects presented in the image, for example the absence of a relationship between bulb size and depth.