Rather than select one, single Groovy Link of the Month, I thought a list of some interesting links might be fun instead.
The Colours of Reality, a major retrospective of the botanical artist and blues musician, Rory McEwen at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Rory McEwen was a true Renaissance Man, a type rarely seen in today’s world of narrow specialization. Born and raised in Scotland, he was introduced to the art of botanical painting by his family’s governess, and learned more from Wilfrid Blunt, his art teacher at boarding school. As a young man, he traveled to the US and popularized the music of the famous blues guitarist Leadbelly by performing 12-string blues on the Ed Sullivan Show and on the BBC in the UK. He turned from music to painting exclusively in 1964.
For contemporary botanical artists, his influence matches only that of Margaret Mee, although the two differed in their approach to botanical art. Mee was the classic explorer-scientist, traveling into the Amazon alone or with a guide to paint and gather plant specimens for further study in her São Paulo studio. McEwen, on the other hand, chose to paint individual leaves, petals and plants as individual beings, with their own unique life history and personality, rather than the generic standard of identification normally seen in botanical illustration until that time. Today’s botanical artists seek to create work that uses modernist compostional techniques and unusual subject matter as a direct result of his groundbreaking work that featured decay, scars and a singular moment in time, rather than the illustrative view of a plant detailing its entire reproductive life cycle.
Botanical artist Martin J. Allen writes an appreciative essay on the exhibit. Inky Leaves blog by artist JR Shepherd, offers several links and reviews of the exhibit.
The exhibit closes on September 22, so if you’re in London during the next 10 days, try to get a look in!
My favorite Brazilian artist, Beatriz Milhazes, is holding her first major retrospective in her home town of Rio de Janeiro at the Paço Imperial (unfortunately, the center’s own website is still under construction.) Entitled Meu Bem (My Dear), the exhibit runs until October 27. I first encountered her work in London, in an installation at the Gloucester Road Tube station and fell in love with her cheerfully rigorous geometric abstractions. Despite her international success in the last 20 years, Milhazes continues to live and work in the historic Jardim Botânico bairro of Rio de Janeiro.
Botanical and biological news:
The Indian Botanists’ Journal blog describes air-cloning the Neomalarckia caramba (Roxb.) That spherical blossom looks like a 1950’s George Nelson chandelier! Fab-a-licious.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art describes the medieval history of the flower we now know as the carnation.
A 1-millimeter long water beetle was discovered on the campus of the Ateneo de Manila University in Manila, the Philippines. Beyond the excitement aroused by the fact that a new species has been discovered in the world’s most densely populated city, the interesting point is that the university campus grounds consist of reclaimed waterways and second-generation forest growth, the type of natural environments often thought of as too degraded to host significant amounts of species or permanent habitats for them.