Rory McEwen at Kew Gardens

Rory McEwen (Scotland, March, 1932-October, 1982) one of the most important 20th century botanical artists is featured in a current exhibit at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens, London, England entitled Rory McEwen, The Colours of Reality.  Born in Scotland, he had no formal art training, however, through Wilfrid Blunt, a painter and historian at Eton and author of “The Art of Botanical Illustration”, the most comprehensive book on the subject to date, learned the skills of observation and applied his modernist approach to botanical illustration.  McEwen’s modern eye within this field has influenced many contemporary artists such as Lizzie Sanders from Scotland and Brit Martin Allen.  Allen is featured in a video documentary on Kew’s website discussing McEwen’s talent:

Rory McEwen – The Colours Of Reality at Kew Gardens – YouTube

Looking at Allen’s work, one can appreciate McEwen’s influence, however, Allen’s “out of focus” technique is a unique contribution to 21st century botanical art.  I strive to find artists to represent who find botanical information to record in new ways within their distinct stylistic interpretations.  Martin Allen’s work is certainly one to compare as seen in his Azalea:

MAAzalea web

Lizzie Sander’s approach is also complimentary to McEwen from a modernist perspective.  Technically and compositionally Sanders’s is a perfectionist as McEwen was, her art crosses from what we know and appreciate of classical botanical portraiture, representational, to abstract painting which poses never-ending questions while we succumb to its  beauty.  As seen in her latest masterpiece of the Myrtle Bark painting:


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