Ribs and Boughs

Ribs and Boughs 
Dimensions: 32cm x 28cm
Plate size: 13cm x 12cm
Etching and aquatint on BFK Rives

Working in a beautiful old studio surrounded by a variety of old and disused windows, obsolete vitrines and historic picture glass, I am particularly drawn to how the inherent distortions formed in glass during manufacture and the subsequent creep of ageing can influence how and what we see. Such idiosyncratic textures together with additional visual patterns of rain, dust and oil provide a unique impression; a distorted reality.
The wonderful Palm House at the Botanic Gardens was an obvious draw for me. I love the way it mirrors the tall palms stretching in so many intricate patterns. The historic glass still has its patina; the accumulated dust, moss and algae perhaps though marking the glass also symbolise where the process of natural selection stems from…


A Natural Selection:
National Botanic Gardens, Dublin: 15 Nov. – 5 Dec. 2013
The Lavit Gallery, Cork: 18 March – 8 April 2014
Galleri Astley, Uttersberg, Sweden: 27April – 18 May 2014
Royal Dublin Society, Ballsbridge: 11 June- 4 July 2014
The Hamilton Gallery, Sligo: 13 June- 30 August 2014

An Exhibition of Fine Art Prints inspired by The National Botanic Gardens Dublin. The National Botanic Gardens were founded in 1795 in a golden age of exploration and scientific discovery. During those extraordinary times, expeditions set out from Europe to every corner of the globe, exploring, opening trade routes and seeking knowledge about the natural world.

This was a romantic era of botanist plant-hunters who journeyed, often in difficult conditions, in search of botanical specimens to carry home for study and cultivation. The naturalist Charles Darwin was one such explorer whose famous voyage around the world on the HMS Beagle and whose subsequent studies led to the publication of his seminal work On the Origin of Species, a work which radically changed our perception of the natural world. The term ‘Natural Selection’ was coined by Darwin to describe how natural forms evolve differently in different locations, to suit their specific environments.

There has always been an important link between botany and the visual arts. The desire to capture botanic images is rooted in antiquity. We find it in the Minoan palaces at Knossos, in the frescoes of Pompeii and in Egyptian tomb painting. In the 16th century, Albrecht Durer’s work displayed a new naturalism in the depiction of plants. In France, in the early 1800s, the Belgian artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté was appointed official artist by the Empress Josephine. The sumptuous images from his almost fifty publications based on the Empress’s gardens at the Chateau de Malmaison remain in reproduction to this day. For over three hundred years printmaking has been an integral part of botanical research and discovery, and vice versa.

This exhibition, organized by a group of artists who are members of Graphic Studio Dublin, unveils 100 fine art prints by 100 artists from Ireland and overseas. This ambitious project has brought together artists from Ireland, North and South, alongside artists from Finland, Germany, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden and United Kingdom. In approaching their work, the participating artists were asked to consider all aspects of the National Botanic Gardens: the 170,000 different species of cultivated forms within the collection, the natural beauty of the gardens at Glasnevin in Dublin and the arboretum at Kilmacurragh Co. Wicklow, their renowned architectural features like the spectacular Curvilinear Range of Glasshouses and the Palm House, and their continuing scientific and botanical research work.

The result is an exceptional exhibition of fine art prints ranging from the figurative – beautiful botanical records, to the conceptual – exploring the shared space between the artist and the natural world. In their different and individual ways the artists have been inspired by and have paid tribute to the richness and diversity of the natural world and to the work of a great institution, an institution which is filled with treasure, and which is itself one of Ireland’s national treasures, the National Botanic Gardens.

Plant collecting and printmaking share a similar characteristic insofar as the propagation of plants mirrors the multiplicity of an edition of prints. In its turn, this shared characteristic facilitates access to people for their enjoyment and inspiration. In this spirit, all the participating artists have agreed to allow their respective works to be purchased at the unusually affordable price of €100 each. This is an opportunity for all those who appreciate art and botany to acquire an original work of art at a modest price, in the knowledge that the proceeds will go to support Graphic Studio Dublin and the participating artists.