Did you know that, according to Botanic Gardens Conservation International, there are botanical gardens in 148 countries across the world? North America alone plays host to over 350 of these gardens. Groups like the American Society of Botanical Artists exist in order to promote awareness of the current revival of the botanical arts and to spread their love of botanical artwork across the country. Maybe you have seen an article in passing in Fine Art Magazine about botanical artists but still find yourself asking, “what is botanical art?”
According to BCGI, botanical gardens are “institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education”. Therefore, botanical art is the way in which these areas are designed and cultivated to promote their beauty and aesthetic value. Further, botanical art can be the painting and photographing of plant specimens. This art form enjoyed mass popularity in different areas of the world at varying times.
Botanical gardens were especially popular during the Victorian Period of 19th century British history and also during the Edo Period of Japanese history which lasted from 1603 until 1868. Indeed, one of the most famous gardens is the Koishikawa in Tokyo which is over 300 years old. These treasures of another age are enjoying revitalized popularity. The American Society of Botanical Artists states that its mission is to be a “leading force” in continuing the current wave of renewed interest in the art form. Why are the botanical arts enjoying this comeback?
Joe Coe Design Pty LTD holds that the renewed interest is in part due to the evolving standards of the botanical arts. By providing visitors to botanical gardens with novel displays, such as those found in the New York Botanical Gardens, that viewership necessarily increases. Modern botanical artists, be they botanical painters or horticulturists, are offering exactly that.
Another factor in this revival is the cost to enjoy. Botanical gardens are often free. If they do require a ticket for admittance it is usual extremely affordable. In this period of economic uncertainty following the Great Recession Americans want to be able to enjoy the beauty the world offers just as before. The difference now is that they want to do it cheaply. Botanical gardens fill this need.
As the botanical arts continue their resurgence in popularity so too will the need for trained practitioners grow. The American Society of Botanical Artists offers a way for current artists to keep up with the trends in the art form while offering avenues for newcomers to be trained. This group and others, like the Botanical Artists of Canada, are an important part in ensuring the survival of the art for years to come.