Two art galleries are included in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Not surprisingly given their location, the two galleries focus on art and botany.
The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art opened in 2008. It is housed in a new building designed by Walters & Cohen with an aim towards minimizing its impact on the surrounding area.
It seeks to “capture the endless variety of artistic responses to plants and fungi.” To this end, it hosts exhibitions of botanical illustrations - - an art form dating back to the 15th century. The exhibitions draw from Kew's collection of some 200,000 works as well as the collection of Dr. Shirley Sherwood, a renowned collector and a former trustee of Kew.
In addition, the gallery hosts exhibitions by contemporary artists whose work is inspired by plants. For example, in 2019, the gallery had an extensive exhibition of the works of the glass sculptor Dale Chihuly (see our review).
A few paces away from the Sherwood Gallery is the Marianne North Gallery, the “only permanent solo exhibition by a female artist in Britain."
Marianne North was a Victorian lady who traveled the world alone at a time when it was unusual for ladies of her class to leave their house alone much less to travel to the remote corners of the Earth alone. Her purpose was to paint plants.
Her paintings present the plants with scientific precision. Indeed, because of her precision, they are a valuable archive of the plants that existed during the 19th century.
Ms. North donated 832 paintings to Kew. They are exhibited in a small Victorian era building, which she also donated. It was designed by James Fergusson. Unfortunately, the paintings are still displayed in the Victorian style with numerous pictures extending up each wall towards the ceiling. This makes it difficult to appreciate the individual works, especially those that are high up on the wall.
Admission to both galleries is included in the price of admission to the Royal Botanical Gardens. For more information on visiting, see the Royal Botanic Gardens website.
For more information on visiting London, see our London page
The Courtlauld Gallery
The Guildhall Art Gallery
The Mall Galleries
The National Gallery
The Queen's Gallery
The Tate Britain
The Tate Modern
The Wallace Collection
For more places to see art
See our Places to See Art index
Above: The Shirley Sherwood Gallery.
Above: The Marianne North Gallery.
Places to see art - - London, England - - Kew Gardens Galleries