RBGE Diploma in Botanical illustration 2020 Final Year Exhibition

Isabel MischkaCucurbita pepo ‘Styriaca’
Cucurbitaceae family

Illustration has been a vital component of communicating botanical information for hundreds of years. It is also a beautifully accessible way of illuminating and recording the natural world around us whilst exploring and better understanding plant life and biodiversity. Indeed, it is widely appreciated as an art form in its own right.

Today it is practised the world over by artists. Along with many who paint purely for pleasure, others work as freelance illustrators for popular books and private commissions and some, like those who work with RBGE, collaborate closely with scientists. For this last group, botanical illustration has a very close focus on taxonomic and scientific aspects as well as aesthetic and illustrative ones. Here art and science blend together.

Marie KorabecnaAsclepias curassavica
Plants in the family of Apocynaceae

Education at RBGE is core to the mission statement; to explore conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future. Our education initiatives welcome people from all walks of life from many different countries, and across many different disciplines. As part of our broad range of educational opportunities, Botanical Illustration is formally taught with courses suited to those from the inexperienced up to a semi-professional level, building on the botanical illustration which has been practiced and developed at RGBE for a century. It aims to teach the skills of close observation, accurate representation and fine rendering necessary for recognition and identification while at the same time developing in each artist a joy and appreciation of the innate beauty of plants – the colours, the textures and details as well as the sheer diversity of this amazing Kingdom of life.

Akiko HagaHydrangea macrophylla ‘Manyo shokubutsu’
Plants from the 8th Century Japanese poetry book
Liu Si HuaYulania x soulangeana
Chinese Medicinal Plants

The Diploma is our two -year flagship botanical illustration course and has been running since 2007, and the three – year Online Diploma since 2012. It is aimed at elevating those already with experience and ability to a high level of competence and skill, and we look forward to seeing how their future botanical painting develops.

This exhibition comprises five pieces of work from each Diploma artist from their final year. Each collection is themed around a topic selected by and personally significant to them. Our students are from all around the world, and this year’s graduating students are from Austria, Czech Republic, China, Finland, Germany, Japan, Scotland and England.

The themes, and the artworks, are a fascinating record of their educational journeys, a window into a wonderfully diverse global flora, and a testament to the success of the RBGE mission to explore, conserve and explain the fascinating world of plants.

Rosemary Darrah – Brassicaceae
Vegetable families
Beryl ProutFuchsia ‘Wendy’s Beauty’
Epiphytic houseplants

The James and Eve Bennett trust award 2020 prize for the student showing great promise was very difficult to judge, as you will see from the remarkable quality of the works in the video. This year we are happy to announce it is awarded to Isabel Mischka for her collection of Cucurbitaceae family, which capture the details and characters of these plants beautifully.

We hope you enjoy the exhibition.

Jacqui Pestell MBE
Head of Botanical Illustration
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

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  1. Celia Brand

    Clever and talented artists – congratulations to you all. A special ‘pat on the back’ to my school friend Beryl Prout has has achieved so much through difficult times. Well done to you all. Magnificent work – just wish I could illustrate to the same standards. Keep on painting!

  2. Anne Carlaw

    Merely by chance , I’ve just found the RBGEBotanical Illustration Diploma video. Thank you, what a treat. I always try to visit but this year it hasn’t been possible, so thank you for providing this. I do hope , all being well, you’ll be able to have a real exhibition next year. It would be lovely to see these treasures on display too.

  3. Gorgeous. A feast for the eyes. Thank you so much for sharing this exquisite selection of illustrations.

  4. Sarah Howard

    What a wonderful variety of project ideas, and each one so creatively put together. My mind boggles at tackling plants from the Finnish mire, or the large leaves of the Curcubite family. Well done all students for a really lovely body of work!

  5. What a lovely display of work. Wonderful.
    Congratulations to Beryl for persevering, and everyone for working so hard and finishing so well.

  6. Jean Craig

    I really enjoyed this delightful presentation and send congratulations to all the students who have presented an amazing variation of plants in their excellent paintings.

  7. Sunanda Widel

    Congratulations to all the talented artists. Your work was a pleasure to view. The variety of plants and the high quality of work is commendable! Best wishes to you all.

  8. María Cristina Nessi

    So beautiful!