It is always a pleasure to visit a thoughtfully curated exhibition.
And, this was particularly so when I went to see ‘Art Forms in Nature’ at the Ipswich Art Gallery. The exhibition was comprised of four collections of images showcasing nature. The main area had a display of 40 photogravures by Karl Blossfeldt, the main upper gallery showed botanical drawings by Guy William Eves, and two smaller side rooms were devoted to specialist classification imagery.
The photogravures of natural forms by Karl Blossfeldt are fascinating. They are a Hayward Gallery Touring exhibition. Each image is beautifully and elegantly framed and mounted, and with discrete labelling (white on black), the main wall of 16 had both a classic and contemporary appeal. It invited closer inspection of each single photogravure.
It is hard to believe these enlarged close-ups capturing such detail are nearly 90 years old.
I was new to Blossfeldt’s work and am now a fan not least as I know I will be returning to his images for pattern and motif inspiration.
Whilst the downstairs gallery featured a German photographer’s work the upstairs space was filled with work by the local artist and botanical illustrator, Guy William Eves.
Now here is why I think this is a thoughtfully curated show – you walk up a staircase having just examined how the lens captures plant detail to come to a collection of detailed drawings showing how the eye and hand creates a record of botanical forms.
Botanical illustrations are about accurately recording the form of a plant, and yet at the same time a visual artist, such as Eves, offers us both the required accuracy and a personal interpretation. A myriad of choices are made as Eves develops each representation. His skilfully drawn studies suggest the presence of living material all created through line and shading.
I think you can see (even in these photos) there is something added by a fine artist when you compare Eves work with the purely accurately rendered scientific drawings and watercolours such as these of flies and fungi.
And, furthermore, if we compare Eve’s drawings with Blossfeldt’s dramatic, intense photogravures, you might agree that the drawings certainly differ having a more vital and radiant quality.
One final point, of course, you are currently looking at all these natural forms several times removed. The artists/photographer have created these works, I have then photographed them (with varying amounts of light and reflections issues, I apologise for the less than optimal quality) and uploaded them to a computer and you are now viewing these images on a screen. Somehow this has deadened their presence. If you don’t get the opportunity to visit this exhibition, I hope you might spare a moment to take a much, much closer look at the next gift from Mother Nature as it crosses your path.
13 thoughts on “Nature drawn and/or photographed – ‘Art Forms in Nature’ Exhibition”
Fascinating, no wonder you enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome. I didn’t think I’d enjoy what was mostly a black and white affair as much as I did.
That lily head is striking even allowing for reproduction loss. And I was surprised at the age of the first works. Lots of inspiration for you there.
Yes, I was surprised too. Black and white work from that period seems more contemporary than when you see colour photos of the same age. Odd that!
You have created an amazing shared piece of art in the form of this post Agnes. Thanks for taking such care to photograph and then write a detailed interpretation for us to appreciate particular aspects of this exhibition.
Thank you. But in all honesty I feel your praise should be directed to the curators who successfully found local contributions that augmented the universal qualities of the photography.
Agreed however you have shared your experience to make it very connecting for those of us in other parts of the world who enjoy such art. Thanks again Agnes.
😁 Well, thank you again. 😌
This looks a real treat. I’ve tried to find out if it’s coming our way, but Google’s not saying…
It’s been in Ipswich for three months. I see on the Southbank Centre’s website that it is one of their available touring shows. I guess it’s up to curators at your local regional art galleries/museums to request the show (and pay for it!). If you know a friend of a friend who works in the gallery world here’s a link to the info
Oooh, thank you. I’ll try to follow this up.
I’d have loved to see Karl Blossfeldt’s works. The Phacelia congesta is fascinating and I agree it was so much more of a challenge to take pictures and even to see like this in his day.
Yes, I agree with you particularly about ‘seeing’ like he did. He was a true innovator and visionary.