The art of fynbos: four inspiring botanical artists
Our Cape Floral Kingdom is a natural work of art. From the tiny, bulbous needles of the fiery Pincushion, to the striking, feminine blooms of the Watsonia, the silvery ‘kolletjies’ of the Brunia, the delicate, miniature blossoms of the Erica, and the regal grandeur of the Protea, it’s no wonder so many artists are compelled to capture its beauty.
But to convey the magnificence and complexity of the richest floral kingdom in the world is no small feat. From etching to photography, painting to sculpture, these four artists are showing the world how it’s done.
Acclaimed South African sculpture and jeweler, Nic Bladen, is no stranger to the world of botanical art. His intricate depictions of fynbos – from seedpods, leaves and flowers, to entire plants – delight audiences all over the world with their incredible accuracy and delicate detail. So accurate, in fact, that each piece appears ‘fossilized’ in time.
Using the technique of ‘lost wax casting’, Nic uses molds created from actual organic material to form his jewellery and sculptures. This not only makes for exquisite pieces of art, but ensures that each piece serves as a valuable documentative record. With ever increasing pressure on biodiversity and floral habitats, Nic views his art as a way of ‘preserving’ plant species that are slowly vanishing.
In 2010, the Table Mountain Fund was immensely privileged to showcase a magnificent Protea cynaroides sculpted by Nic Bladen as part of their annual fundraiser.
To see more of Nic’s work, please visit: http://www.nicbladen.com
Looking at one of Lisa Strachan’s botanical paintings, one almost has to reach out and touch it to check if it’s real. Lisa’s exquisite watercolour pieces are carefully crafted with meticulous attention to detail, focusing on the many tiny features that bring the subject to life.
Specialising in rare and indigenous plants, Lisa’s aim to is capture the profound details of nature as accurately and scientifically as possible, and, with each new subject, this proves a challenge, time and again. Not forgetting that in order to capture the plant at its absolute best (before it wilts or dies) she has to paint remarkably quickly! Lisa’s work has been collected and exhibited in South Africa, UK, USA, Europe, Ireland and Australia.
To learn more about Lisa and her work, visit: http://www.lisastrachan.everard-read-capetown.co.za
To Stuart McHattie, fynbos is the ‘Big 5’ of the Western Cape. As part of his long-time efforts to ‘show off’ the Cape Floral Kingdom, Stuart began creating striking floral art through the medium of photography. The distinctive white or ‘blown’ backgrounds characteristic of all of his shots not only add to their unique appeal, but allow them to remain a raw tribute to the beauty of the flora – shapes, colours and silhouettes are clearly defined with no filter or effect as camouflage.
Stuart prints to canvas, constructing all of his own products from start to finish: cutting the wood, assembling the frame, printing, coating and stretching the canvas. His resulting masterworks depict the precious fynbos biome in a glorified light that is absolutely deserved, and are popular with both the local and foreign markets. ‘Blomme are cool!’ says Stuart. We agree. What a wonderful way to share them with the world.
To find out more about StuART, please visit: http://www.stuartphoto.co.za/
Jane’s fascination with fynbos developed while accompanying her husband, Nic Bladen, on assignment to the wild areas of the Western Cape. Seeing the world of fynbos through a slightly different lens, Jane conceived a wonderfully unique way to capture the beauty and diversity of the Cape Floral Kingdom from A-Z: An Alphabet of Fynbos.
Jane’s creation depicts 26 different plant species, one for each letter of the alphabet, based on the common (both English and Afrikaans) and scientific names of various fynbos plants. Each letter takes the form of an exquisitely crafted copperplate etching, tenderly intertwined with the features of the flora it represents.
Complimentary to the alphabet is a series of ‘Love Letters’ – a select set of whimsical phrases from South African poetry, depicted in Jane’s Fynbos font. The result? A magical mix of art, literature and nature, and a true celebration of the botanical richness of the Cape Floral Kingdom.
To purchase or find out more about Jane’s works, please visit: http://www.janeeppel.com