Trees feature heavily this month, but then it’s definitely a time of year to pay special attention to them. John Constable, Emily Carr, the Woodland Trust, John Muir and Plant Curator itself, all well-known purveyors of these special plants, make up the top 5 plant happenings in November.
1. From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
How can it be that this is the first major solo exhibition in Europe dedicated to the doyenne of British Columbian-scapes? Thanks go to the Dulwich Picture Gallery for bringing Emily Carr’s (1871–1945) generous gifts to the UK. Long overdue. Started 1 November and runs until 8 March 2015
Emily Carr, Happiness, 1939
2. Constable: The Making of a Master at Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Trees, more trees, landscapes, trees by other people and a few plant portraits: A must see exhibition for the plant art intrigued. Whether you are a Constable fan or not, there is so much to appreciate about this exhibition. All curators try to maximise engagement with all artworks, but not all achieve it, but the V&A certainly does here. They provide a video slideshow of how the landscapes depicted in Constable’s paintings look today; they inform us of his process (eg “I know dock leaves pretty well, but I should not attempt to introduce them into a picture without having them before me“); and they juxtapose his artworks with both those of artists that have influenced him and those who he has influenced. Really interesting. Runs until 11 January 2015.
© Victoria and Albert Museum
Study of the trunk of an elm tree, ~1821
3. Nature’s Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir’s Botanical Legacy at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Scotland has produced so many men that have gone on to shape our understanding of the botanical world. None more so than the naturalist, author, and US wilderness preservationist John Muir (1838-1914). This exhibition claims to show us “vivid images of the actual plants that Muir held in his hands, carried in his backpack, and preserved for all time“. So many of his sentiments seem so relevant to the disconnection with nature that many of us incur today. Exhibition runs from 1 November to 25 January 2015.
A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.
Most people are on the world, not in it.
I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.
Some quotes by John Muir
4. Top Ten Trees of the Year Road-trip
This is the month to visit England’s top 10 trees that have been shortlisted for the Woodland Trust’s ‘Tree of the Year’, it is Autumn after all. All specimens can be seen in digital form via the recent Guardian Environment article. Unfortunately you may miss the vote (closes 4 November), but to see if you agree with the winner, a road-trip is in order. Below is a map with the trees’ locations ordered in the most environmentally friendly use of petrol way. Coming in at under 14 hours, this is surely a great way to spend a November weekend. Make note, only general areas have been mapped here, so if you don’t want to add another week onto these timings wandering aimlessly around Sherwood Forest and the like, best to do a little bit more research into individual tree locations. Secondly, take your cameras, brushes etc and become one of the few people that’s probably seen all ten. It’s very arbitrary of course, and all trees are special so there is no real need to rank them, but we really appreciate the work of the Woodland Trust to conserve and promote these wonderful plants in the UK.
5. Plant Curator has opened a botanical shop window
Over the last six months we have presented the work of a large number of artists, working with plants in diverse and inspirational ways. The shop gives links to items either by, or about, these artists, in addition to other botanically inspired things that we like and fit into our ethos of promoting the importance of plants through the arts and creative industries. We plan to continue collating all things botanical, so please help us do so by taking a look. More items and categories will be added each week.