Review of “Florilegium: A gathering of flowers”

In “Edinburgh Botanic Gardens ART Gallery OPENS with Florilegium: A gathering of flowers,” Reviewsphere reviews the new group exhibition opening on October 16, 2020, at Inverleith House, in Edinburgh, Scotland. See previous post Annalee Davis in Florilegium: a gathering of flowers. Here are excerpts; see full review at Reviewsphere. [Shown above: Two works from Annalee Davis’s series “As if the Entanglements of Our Lives Did Not Matter.”]

New and existing works by contemporary artists Lee Mingwei, Annalee Davis, Wendy McMurdo and Lyndsay Mann join over 40 established botanical artists such as Mieko Ishikawa, Dianne Sutherland and Sansanee Deekranjang in Florilegium: A gathering of flowers, at Inverleith House, Edinburgh, which re-opens this Autumn. The biennial exhibition is the first of a new programme as Inverleith House begins its transformation into Climate House following the award of the Outset Contemporary Art Fund’s Transformative Grant.

The artists will respond to Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s (RBGE) globally-important plant collection comprising over 13,500 species with works that reveal how flowers can elicit cultural, historic, geographic, socio-political and scientific ideas. The title derives from the name for a group of botanical artworks and is part of RBGE’s ambitious project to catalogue the plant collection through botanical and contemporary art responses. The artists – living and working internationally – have overcome the challenges of a global pandemic this year to create new and never seen before works of art for Florilegium. They will be displayed for the first time in this major exhibition marking the post-Covid19 reopening of Inverleith House.

Running from 16th October until 13 December 2020, Florilegium: A gathering of flowers will feature works showing plants that can be seen growing in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Glasshouses, and others of significant scientific value. Work draws upon ideas of death, renewal, ritual and colonial history and span photography, moving image and works on paper.

[. . .] Barbadian artist Annalee Davis’s suite of drawings As If The Entanglements Of Our Lives Did Not Matter includes two family portraits that reference her mixed Caribbean heritage. Alongside the family portraits are six drawings on ledger pages, grounding these images in the history of the plantation system. Davis’s works feature plants such as Vervain, Bread and Cheese, Common Sow Thistle, Lady Palm, Paw-Paw, Sugar Cane, and Wonder-of-the-World. [. . .]

A florilegium is a book of flowers. It is commonly a group of botanical paintings depicting a particular collection. The collection may also represent an exploration of a garden or plant family. Florilegium: A gathering of flowers is the first public exhibition arising from the RBGE Florilegium, a project which was initiated in 2019. It recognises the need to expand the Garden’s important collection of botanical illustrations in a planned way to ensure that plants being grown and studied by RBGE staff will feature as new works in the collection. RBGE botanists identify, describe and name plants new to science and rely on botanical illustration and herbarium specimens as important reference material.

The artistic depiction of plants has an ancient history, and was originally deployed as a means of identification, although, by the end of the Renaissance, botanical painting had also come to be appreciated as an art form in its own right. In Scotland, one of the earliest books recording scientific illustrations of plants was Robert Sibbald’s Scotia Illustrata in 1684. Sibbald was the first professor of medicine at the University of Edinburgh and a founder of RBGE. The botanical illustrator’s eye for detail continues to play an important role in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s 350-year history, bringing together scientific scrutiny and artistic skill to highlight the beauty and diversity of rare and endangered plants and helping to communicate the vital message of conservation. [. . .]

For full review, see

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