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Flower show to feature botanical displays and demos

February 11, 2013

Attendees at the Philadelphia Flower Show should be sure to see the demonstrations by botanical artists of the Philadelphia Society of Botanical Illustrators. They will be there every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., March 2-10.

Also displayed in their booth are more than 50 paintings selected by a professional outside jury from more than 80 pieces that were submitted. The judges are expert in not only artistic proficiency but also botanical accuracy; they are highly respected in the fields of horticulture, botany and art.

This year, as part of the flower show’s overall theme of The Flora of Great Britain, the theme of the botanical art exhibition is Her Majesty’s Bouquet. Included are paintings of hollyhocks and peonies, hellebores and daffodills, all flowers found in Great Britain. Many of the plants and flowers exhibited were originally from John Bartram in Philadelphia: trees like magnolia and black walnut, flowers like the black-eyed Susan and the lily. In addition, there will be a coloring sheet for children.

The purpose of botanical art has changed little through history. It is an ancient art form whose original purpose was to accurately depict the herbs and flowers important to medicine.  Today it continues to aid botanists, horticulturalists and pharmaceutical scientists in identifying new species around the world.

However, the contemporary botanical artist of today is more interested in celebrating nature with not only precision but also an appreciation of its beauty and intricacy. As Virginia Fitzpatrick, president of PSBI, says, “We combine intellectual knowledge of plants and experience with art materials into our paintings and drawings.”

PSBI is an association of more than 75 artists formed 15 years ago. They exhibit all over the Delaware Valley; for example, at The Station Gallery outside Wilmington, the Friends Hospital in Northeast Philadelphia and the Jenkins Arboretum in Devon. Their demonstrations at the Philadelphia Flower Show are part of their purpose to bring botanical illustration to the attention of many audiences.

For more information, contact Sarah Maxwell at smaxwell@fordham.edu.