Botanical art exhibition to open soon at Standard Bank Gallery
Exhibition: Exact Imagination: 300 Years of Botanically Inspired Art in South Africa
Venue: Standard Bank Gallery
Dates: 8 October – 6 December 2014
Exact Imagination: 300 Years of Botanically Inspired Art in South Africa opens at Standard Bank Gallery on 8 October 2014. Originating out of a desire to showcase the extraordinary national treasure of botanical illustrations in the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) collection, and extended by curator Cyril Coetzee, Exact Imagination: 300 Years of Botanically Inspired Art in South Africa brings together three intersecting themes: botanical illustrations from SANBI and other collections; contemporary botanically inspired fine art; and southern African objects of material culture made from a variety of grasses, reeds and creepers.
Among the works on view are 18th-century hand-coloured etchings by Francis Bauer and delicate watercolours by Georg Dionysius Ehret, plus a selection of antique books, containing works by Francis Masson, Jan Commelijn, Pierre-Joseph Redouté, Henry Andrews and others. On display too are 20th-century botanical illustrations including grasses by Gertrude Laurence and J.P.H. Acocks, and wild flowers from in and around South Africa painted and drawn by such well-known artists as Cythna Letty, Ellaphie Ward-Hilhorst and Auriol Batten. The delicate botanical illustrations are complemented by exuberant, richly coloured and textured works by contemporary artists, including William Kentridge, Helmut Starcke and Walter Oltmann that demonstrate a fascination with the structure of plants, as do the works of Keith Struthers, who explores the precise geometry of plants as an underpinning for architectural design. These sit alongside a collection of woven baskets and mats, offering fascinating insights into the range and diversity of South Africa’s contemporary cultural production.
In a world where our view of what is around us is increasingly shaped by the images from around the globe flashing past us on our electronic devices, this exhibition reminds us to stop; to look down and to take pleasure in the fragile beauty of even the most commonplace weed that makes its way miraculously through the cracks of the pavement, and into our view.
A fascinating series of lunchtime lectures has been planned to complement this exhibition. All lectures will be held at Standard Bank Gallery, Cnr. Simmonds & Frederick Streets, Johannesburg, from 13:00 to 14:00. Phone 011 631-4467
- 8 October – Cyril Coetzee: Exact Imagination: 300 Years of Botanically Inspired Art in South Africa
- 15 October – Mary Scholes: How plants and microorganisms work together
- 22 October – Bob Scholes: Mixed media: Art meets science
- 5 November – John Rourke: History of botanical art in South Africa (colonial times to the present)
- 12 November – Braam van Wyk: Remarkable wild flowers of Gauteng
- 19 November – Ben-Erik van Wyk: Indigenous plant-based medicines: the fiction and the fact.
- 26 November – Vivienne Williams: The history of medicinal plants in South Africa
* This programme is subject to change.