The Himalayan Gardens and Sculpture Park is putting a spotlight on autumnal splendour by reviving the age-old tradition of botanical illustration.
Botanical artist, Bridget Gillespie, will run a three-day workshop 9-11 October at the gardens near Ripon. The garden is open for its autumn season on October 5.
The art form dates back to 50 and 70 CE, with a Greek botanist identifying plants for medicinal use; by the 18th century it became a respected profession.
Bridget said: “There’s been a recent revival of interest in botanical illustration as I think people are starting to prioritise beauty over convenience. I think in our digital age where everything is throw-away, convenient and fast, it’s something of a slow revolution. It is transformative in that it shows people how to see things in a new way, to really look at the detail and complexity of plants as something seemingly simple, rather than take them for granted.”
A botanical illustrator for over 20 years, she was awarded Gold Medals by the RHS who purchased several of her pieces for their archive collection.
She said: “Autumn is a stunning time of year in the Himalayan Gardens because of the beautiful woodlands and strong colours, so we’ll be looking at root vegetables that are at their peak, and autumn leaves.”
Before the era of photography, artists were depended on to share the beauty of botany, with in-depth horticultural knowledge. Illustrations were used by physicians, pharmacists, scientists and horticulturalists for identification, analysis and classification.
The drawings are still used today by major horticulturalists, including the RHS.
Bridget added: “One of the unique and very exciting things about the Himalayan Gardens is you’ll find very rare plants you won’t find elsewhere, thanks to the specialised conditions of sheltered woodlands on acid soil.”
Yorkshire’s hidden gem, the gardens are home to over 80 sculptures alongside the North of England’s largest collection of rhododendrons.
Bridget believes botanical illustration fits with the meditative theme of the Himalayas, as the drawings are a slow process, demanding huge levels of concentration: “Once you’ve really learned to look at plants in detail with all their complexity the world is your oyster – everything can be of interest because you just start to look more closely than before.”
The Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park opens for autumn October 5 to November 3. Opening hours are 10am-4pm on Tuesdays to Sundays and Bank Holidays. https://www.himalayangarden.com/