WHO WE ARE
We are a small friendly group of retired women. We have been meeting together for several years in Dronfield to paint and draw botanical subjects. We try to do this in a realistic manner to present a factual representation of the botanical features of plants, but with our own personal interpretation.
We began as a Further Education class with a professional tutor. Our tutor retired and was not replaced so we became a self supporting independent group. Our former tutor Sheila Thompson has been very supportive and encouraging of our efforts.
We like to discuss our work and other things in our coffee and tea breaks and support each other with advice and constructive criticism. We are keen to encourage new members who would be most welcome. We can offer new members, be they male or female, a structured programme and advice if required as we have no permanent tutor at present.
To encourage new members we have recently joined the Dronfield Hall Barn Project. The Project has supported us in organising workshops. We hope to have more in the future.
WHAT WE DO
Our inspiration comes from a wide range of living subjects; from flowers and fruit to fungi. In Spring we often use plants growing in pots such as hellebores or narcissi. In Autumn, leaves and fruits provide us with a different range of subjects. We use different media such as pencil, inks, and crayons as well as watercolour in our work.
Botanical Illustration is a way of portraying plants accurately. In the past these illustrations were used by botanists and scientists to study the parts of the plant; roots, flowers, stems, fruits and sexual parts. Even today an illustration can provide a more accurate representation than a photograph. However, the appreciation of the beauty of plants has led to a more relaxed approach to Botanical Illustration known as plant portraiture which is the approach we tend to use.
Every year we hold a small exhibition of our work to provide us with a focus. More recently, with the help of the Barn Project, we have organised one day workshops on the basic techniques required for Botanical Illustration and we are planning others. We hope to build on this by inviting well known artists in the field to talk about and demonstrate different aspects of botanical art.
Below is just a few photographs of the illustrations we have done.
The Dronfield Botanical Illustration Group meets weekly in term time at Gladys Buxton College of Further Education on Oakhill Road in Dronfield S18 2EJ on Wednesday afternoons from 1pm until 3pm in Autumn, Spring and Summer terms.
The cost of the room rental varies according to the number of weeks in the term and the number of members.
At present the cost is between £20 and £25 a term for each person.
For further information please telephone Mrs Frances Webb on 0114 2890003
For our introductory workshops visit the Dronfield Hall Barn events page.
HISTORY OF BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATION
What is Botanical Illustration?
The importance of fruit, vegetables and herbs to the human race goes back in time to our origins, and as a consequence, the development of illustration of botanical subjects has developed alongside. Cave paintings of plants have been discovered alongside depictions of mammoths, and as we move forward through history we find civilisations such as the Ancient Egyptians who have images of plants in their temples.
The monks of Lindisfarne painted beautiful illustrations in their gospels. Paintings in books about herbs were produced in medieval times to describe their properties, and during the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18thC botanists were plant hunting all over the globe.
The production of botanical illustrations became extremely important to botanists and scientists before the invention of the camera. Beautiful paintings and drawings of plants can be found in archives all over the world. One of these is the Lindley Library belonging to the Royal Horticultural Society in London.
Nowadays, Botanical Illustration has experienced a revival, and the Shirley Sherwood collection of contemporary botanical art is open to the public in Kew Gardens.
There are now very few professional courses available; the nearest ones are in Leicester and Edinburgh. However, there are groups and artists who are very active. In the Sheffield and Dronfield area there are 3 or 4, one of which is the Dronfield Botanical Illustration Group.