BOTANIST & BOTANICAL ARTIST-
I have been fascinated by plants for a long as I can remember. As a kid my bedroom windowsill was festooned with unusual plants! I have carried this passion with me ever since and I’ve been fortunate to see some incredible plants in their natural habitats around the world. Encountering rare and unusual plants on location gives me a thrill that, for me at least, nothing can compare with. As a botanical artist I then seek to recreate some of this magic on canvas: back in my studio in Oxfordshire I slowly conjure up a desert plain, or rainforest thicket, staging the plant I am about to illustrate. This is my passion.
During the process of painting plants, I can be transported back to a remote and precipitous hillside somewhere, with the sound of a waterfall in the distance, or the trill of tropical birdsong. In an uncertain and frenetic world, both plants and painting are healing. Indeed art is recognised widely as an effective way to improve people’s mental wellbeing. Focussing on natural beauty and creativity is a great way to stimulate the creative brain. For me, just 20 minutes spent painting every day is enough to recalibrate my mental wellbeing.
Chris Thorogood is the Deputy Director and Head of Science of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum in the UK, and a lecturer in plant biology at the University of Oxford’s Department of Plant Sciences. Chris’s research focusses on the evolution of parasitic and carnivorous plants, conservation of parasitic plants, plant diversity in the Mediterranean Basin and Japan, and the biomimetic applications of plants. Chris is a panellist for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ and an international best-selling author of specialist and non-specialist titles including ‘Weird Plants’.
Connect with Chris;
Louise Bird - Printmaker
I have been a practicing printmaker working from my studio in Norfolk for over 25 years. During my degree course in Fine Art, I became fascinated by bees and my interest has continued until this day. I get great satisfaction knowing my artwork is generating awareness for the importance of bees and in 2019 I was delighted to have my mezzotint ‘Bumblebee Species 2’ selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition!
I was also extremely excited to have my mezzotints and illustrations featured on the covers of bumblebee ecologist, Dave Goulson’s books, ‘A Sting in the Tale’ and ‘A Buzz in the Meadow’.
I have exhibited my artwork widely, most notably at 'The Society of Wildlife Artists annual show, London, and the Affordable Art Fair, London and New York. I am proud to be involved with 'The Norwich Print Fair' since its first show in 1995 and have also organised and curated 'Print Fair Elements' at The Forum, Norwich, both these events dedicated to promoting printmaking in East Anglia.
Currently my subjects have broadened to include other insect species, plants and birds. I enjoy using a variety of print techniques, most notably mezzotint, which involves a great deal of time and patience.
To complement my artwork I have created a range of giftware based on bumblebees and other natural history subjects which feature in my Etsy shop. The range includes items featuring a guide to identifying the top 8 British Bumblebee Species, so hope this will inspire people to get outside and start identifying!