At Plant Curator we use the term botanical art loosely to include any creative expression that involves plants. Over the last few months this website has shown that there are many great artists out there doing incredible things with plants, working in every medium you can imagine. Yet historically the term “botanical art” was used to mean paintings or illustrations that depicted a precise, realistic representation of its subject’s morphology for scientific use. Things have changed a lot, for science at least, because we now have cameras and electron microscopes and super-powered scanners. Commissioning a botanical artist would be both expensive and slow. Irrespective of its viability to science, today there are many people that love it and many people that are buying it. If the number of new botanical societies being created is anything to go by, and the number of botanical prints and textiles found in shops, it looks like botanical art is on the up again.
There is no doubt that botanical art is a beautiful and highly skilled art form, one whose traditions should be protected, but it is only one. Many other plant art forms can connect people to nature, bring happiness, highlight species conservation issues and promote care for the environment. Plant Curator would question Botanical Societies’ need to honour tradition so much, by excluding other plant-inspired artists from joining up and in. Expansion offers a better chance of protection, and inclusivity can only mean growth and good things.
Many countries have national botanical societies and some have regional ones too. If you are an aspiring botanical artist (in the traditional sense) this is your place to start, gather information and make connections. All known societies to Plant Curator can be found in our Directory section. As an introduction to a few of them we thought we would present our top 5 society homepage designs. Most societies homepages display some kind of botanical imagery, and because it is so beautiful, there were not really any that didn’t have some degree of appeal. The following five had something a little extra that caught our imagination.
5. The Japanese Association of Botanical Illustration
Year founded: 1991
What we like: If you don’t click translate in Google and enjoy it in Japanese script, it all looks so lovely alongside the images.
4. The Society of Botanical Artists
Year founded: 1985 (we think)
What we like: We are slightly biased here being the UK an all. But it is rather pretty, and we are drawn to the slight vignetting. Maybe it is because it’s the oldest one of the five, or the historical ownership of the art form, but it’s the only one that doesn’t have its country in the title.
3. Société Française d’Illustration Botanique
Year Founded: 2011
What we like: It’s that foreign language thing again probably. However, sometimes, these days with web design, it’s nice to have a static homepage with less going on. Feels kind of zen.
2. The American Society of Botanical Artists
Year founded: 1994
What we like: This is a high quality affair. It is showing some fantastic art and it makes you desperately want to be part of their gang.
1. Irish Society of Botanical Artists
Year founded: 2013
What we like: Not really sure whose paying homage to who, because ASBA, plus Canadian botanical society and this one are all fairly similar in design. But what we liked most about this one was that via its content, it gave the best impression of a vibrant, happening and active society.