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Plant: Exploring the Botanical World


by Phaidon editors, with an introduction by James Compton Published by Phaidon 3 October 2016 (£39.95)


In October my work will be featured in a new book by Phaidon called Plant: Exploring the Botanical World. This book is the first to bring together botanical art across all media and throughout history, celebrating the extraordinary beauty and diversity of plants from around the world. From ancient stone carvings to watercolour illustrations, and the earliest photography to cutting-edge scans, Plant explores the fascinating role of plants in our history and culture.


Botanical illustration has contributed to our understanding of the world around us. Highlights of the 300 botanical images include the oldest surviving medieval manuscript from 512AD; watercolours made on James Cook’s exploration of Australia; and an electron micrograph scan of the cannabis plant by Ted Kinsman. Accompanying the illustrations are stories of those adventurous botanists, scientists and painters whose names and work are lesser known or have since been forgotten.

The most enduring motivation behind botanical art, perhaps despite its scientific origins, has been aesthetic. From the nineteenth century until today, countless artists have been enthralled not only by plants but also by the discipline of botanical art and the study of plants. Flowers, in particular, have been constantly reproduced in botanical art because of their beauty or dramatic spectacle.

The artworks are arranged in the book in complementary or contrasting pairs to create thought-provoking juxtapositions. A hand-coloured print by Pierre-Joseph Redouté faces a digital 3D digital rendering of a rose by contemporary Japanese artist Macoto Murayama; a 16th century engraving of a dandelion by Elizabeth Blackwell, which appeared in her book of herbal medicines, sits opposite a steel sculpture of a dandelion by artist Paul Morrison; and a sketch by explorer William Dampier, who was the first to illustrate a selection of plants when he landed in Australia in 1699, is paired with a twentieth-century Aboriginal painting of the Bush Banana. Packed with stories, readers of Plant can learn about tulipomania, the remarkable craze that gripped the Netherlands in the seventeenth century, and thale cress, the first plant to undergo its complete lifecycle in space.

Plant presents the painstaking work of botanists and artists, such as a never-before- published sketch by Charles Darwin, the cyanotypes of pioneering botanist Anna Atkins, and the pressed flowers of the American poet Emily Dickinson. In addition, work by Brassaï, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Mapplethorpe, Georgia O’Keeffe and Irving Penn is included alongside that of botanical illustrators Ferdinand Bauer, Arthur Harry Church, Ernst Haeckel, Margaret Mee, Sydney Parkinson, Stella Ross-Craig and Pandora Sellars. The book includes a fascinating chronology of botany from 9500BC to today. An international panel of botanists, horticulturalists and experts selected the 300 entries.
Plant: Exploring the Botanical World by Phaidon editors, with an introduction by James Compton is published by Phaidon on 3 October 2016

Hardback £39.95 | 300 colour & black and white illustrations | 352 pages | 290 x 250 mm | ISBN: 9780714871486
phaidon.com



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Philip Reinagle, Large Flowering Sensitive Plant from Robert John Thornton, The Temple of Flora, 1799. Hand- coloured engraving, 44 × 35.7 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Picture credit: Natural History Museum, London / Science Photo Library
Rob Kesseler, Scabiosa crenata. 2013. Hand-coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM), dimensions variable, private collection.
Picture credit: Collection of Rob Kesseler
Lee Kwang-Ho, Cactus No. 59, 2011. Oil on canvas, 259 × 170 cm, private collection. Picture credit: © Lee Kwang Ho / Johyun Gallery
Ernst Haeckel,
Liverworts (Hepaticae), from Kunstformen der Natur, 1899. Chromolithograph, 35.7 × 28 cm, Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Picture credit: © Fine Art / Alamy Stock Photo
                             

About Phaidon


Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's
most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.

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© Lisa Creagh 2017