• By: Kat Walcott

Botany Takes Center Stage for ‘Art of the Plant’

If you are a plant lover, you will not want to miss the Museum of Nature’s latest special exhibit, the stunning “Art of the Plant.” The exhibit, which was developed in collaboration with the American Society of Botanical Artists, is just one of the five “Art of the Plant” shows opening in Canada this month, along with shows in 24 other countries. This international showcase is all about celebrating the beauty of plants and shedding light on the importance of botany, which is the scientific study of plant life.

This exhibit, which runs for five months, closing on October 14th, features 48 hyper-realistic watercolour and oil paintings of various Canadian-native plants, all done by Canadian botanical artists. Though the paintings are contemporary, the artists utilize painting and printmaking methods that have been around since the earliest days of botanical art. The study of plants dates back over ten thousand years and, since photo and video technology has only been around for a fraction of that time, botanical artists creating highly detailed and realistic visuals of plants has been vital to our understanding of botanical biology.

Emphasizing the importance of this exhibit, Exhibition Chair for Art of the Plant, Kerri Weller says, “Through this project, we hope to bring attention to the importance of native plant biodiversity and conservation, as well as today’s renaissance in botanical art.”

Some of the plants depicted in the paintings might be familiar to you, such as the big-leaved maple in a watercolour piece by Ottawa-based artist Kathryn Macdonald, which you have to squint really hard to realize is a painting and not an actual pressed leaf, or the beautiful staghorn sumac piece by fellow Ottawa artist Sengmany Phommachakr. Others, such as the stunning purple satin flower, brought to life in a painting by Qualicum Beach artist Sherry Mitchell, may be new to your eyes as it grows exclusively in British Columbia. Therefore, this exhibit not only makes you take a closer look at plants that are right in your backyard, but also opens your eyes to Canada’s greater biodiversity and beauty.

The exhibit is hosted in the gorgeous and intimate Stonewall Gallery of the museum and tons of special programming and guided tours are planned over its five-month run. Don’t miss it!