By Garth King\False Bay Echo
Far south botanical artists have a solid presence at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Art Biennale, which takes place at Kirstenbosch from August 30 to September 15 and showcases top South African botanical artists as well others from around the world. Entry to the exhibition is free.
The Biennale is part of Kirstenbosch’s centenary year — and they are celebrating with a number of events, the focus being medicinal and traditional use plants of southern Africa, including plants used for food, shelter, decoration, adornment, health, devotional rituals and rites of passage.
The far south artists participating include Jenny Bryce of St James, who has a BA (Fine Art) from the University of South Africa. Her initial training was as a cartographer and she studied oil and watercolour painting at the Ruth Prowse School of Art and has had several calendars of indigenous flora published. Ms Bryce has been active on the committee of the Botanical Artists Association of Southern Africa and was the Western Cape BAASA chairperson in 2008 and 2009.
Other far south artists featured artists include Gillian Grose of Simon’s Town, who has a distance learning Diploma from the Society of Botanical Artists in Britain; and Eric Judd of Fish Hoek, who has painted professionally for 40 years, participating in many group shows and in 51 solo exhibitions. “What Aloe is that?” (1967) was the first publication of his work. Mr Judd has exhibited at all the previous Kirstenbosch Biennales.
There are also two Sun Valley artists in the Biennale: Susan Abraham grew up on a farm in central Zimbabwe and trained as a geographer, but has spent over 30 years working as a scientific illustrator and cartographer. She has illustrated a great variety of things: from arthropods to wind-turbines, but has always done decorative paintings of plants for pleasure.
Ms Abraham worked closely with Tony Dold of the Schonland Herbarium, Grahamstown, on the production of the book Voices from the Forest and together they are working on a new book on the historic uses of plants by the Xhosa and European settlers in the area.
The second Sun Valley artist is Iris Farham, a self-taught artist who first exhibited her work at the Kirstenbosch Biennale in 2010. She started by painting the varieties of flowers that grew in her garden when she lived in Pretoria.