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’.