Florilegium Society

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Symphytum officinale by Julia Trickey, Taraxacum officinale by Alister Mathews and Urtica dioica by Nicki Tullett.

The Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society was formed in 1995, with the primary aim of recording in paintings and drawings the plants growing in the Physic Garden. Work is donated to the Garden’s Archive, subject to selection, for the use and benefit of the Garden. Its nucleus was a small number of students who had just completed the first Certificate of Botanical Illustration Course to be offered by the English Gardening School, directed by Anne-Marie Evans, who remains Hon. President of the Society she helped create.

In 1995, Evans wrote: ‘whereas the Florilegia of the 17th Century were created to portray the beauty and novelty of those plants brought back from the expanding colonies, the modern Florilegium may be seen as a conservation tool, instrumental in recording for posterity collections of plants within a chosen garden.’ The CPG has played a central role in the development of botanical painting in the UK and abroad and, in 2005 produced a book by Andrew Brown, ‘Flower Paintings from the Apothecaries’ Garden.’

The primary aim remains the portrayal of the Garden’s entire collection and, as there are more than 5,000 plants listed, current members are still merely laying the foundations of a vast project! From the members’ annual submission of paintings, pen and ink and pencil drawings, work is selected by an independent panel to maintain highest standards. About 500 watercolours and 150 drawings have currently been accepted. All plant material is grown in the Garden and Herbarium specimens are also prepared. The Head Gardener and his team continue to instruct and help members.

We aim to help promote Florilegia worldwide and are affiliated with several we helped set up. The society grows from strength to strength and in 2015 we will be celebrating our 20th year. Our work is donated for the benefit of the Garden, and it is gratifying that our drawings are used to illustrate the Annual Report and several Garden booklets to aid artists and benefit the Garden.

The society fulfills its additional aim, “to further general awareness of this exacting method of portraying plants” with occasional exhibitions of drawings and paintings.


Previous exhibitions:

Treasures from a Hidden Garden:
Plant portraits by the Florilegium Society

In August 2013 the Society staged an exhibition at the Chelsea Physic Garden bringing together work by many of our botanical artists, reflecting the diversity and sheer beauty of plants in the Garden.

In October 2013, 47 of these paintings from 47 different Florilegium members were displayed at the RHS Horticulture Halls in Westminster, London.

Inner Beauty? Paintings of Medicinal Plants by the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society

This exhibition was displayed at the newly opened Shirley Sherwood Gallery for Botanical Art at Kew Gardens in 2008, and at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York, USA in 2009. It featured 45 paintings by 45 of the Society’s artists.

Apothecaries’ Artists,
Paintings of Plants Cultivated in the Physic Garden

The Florilegium Society celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Garden in 2005 with this exhibition.

In 2000 the Society showed paintings at the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation in Pittsburgh, with which we have a warm relationship through its then Curator of Art the late James White, who was our enthusiastic Hon. Patron, USA. Over 40 members of the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society are independently represented in the Hunt Collection

Many Florilegium Society members are successful artists exhibiting worldwide. Some have RHS medals to their credit; some also teach Botanical Illustration. Over thirty paintings by members are represented in the celebrated collection of Dr Shirley Sherwood, whose travelling exhibitions have created a large discerning public for this art.

To find out more about the Florilegium Society, including how to become a Painting Member or an Associate Member, please contact Dugald Graham-Campbell, Chairman of the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society, at  d.grahamcampbell@btinternet.com