Hallam Artists at Work – Inspired by Flowers!

An article written by some of our members for the Friends of The Botanical Gardens Newsletter

Hallam Art Group was founded in 1974 to provide local artists with mutual help and support and to promote visual art.  This is achieved by weekly meetings at Hallam Community Hall Fulwood, when we have regular talks, demonstartions, workshops, life drawing, DVD/discussion evenings and portrait sessions.

Current members come from all walks of life. They work in a range of media including oils, pastels, acrylics, watercolours, conte crayon, charcoal, print and mixed media, including textiles.

We have held exhibitions annually, in the Botanical Gardens since the 1980s when members found it thrilling to be there , at a time when there were few opportunities for artists to show their work. We will be exhibiting again the first weekend in May at the Education Centre in partnership with FOBS who wil be running their first plant sale of the year on the Sunday.

Two of our members sketching in the Botanical Gardens

At Hallam Art Group many of us are inspired by the variety of colour, form and pattern in flowers, interpreting them in our own expressive styles.

As Isabel Blincow says ‘Gardens for me are a joy. Every season of the year has its own beauty. As an artist, the darks and lights, the wealth of colour, the shapes and ever changing lines are a constant challenge. ‘’In’t  Gardnin  Brilliant’’ has been one of my favourite recent paintings.’

When she visits her favourite garden, Felley Priory, Judith Hanson, is drawn to  bold pink and mauve flowers, poppies, alliums, roses and clematis, with Ammi major providing sparkling white highlights.‘ I’m fascinated by  texture and shape in the seed heads, winter trees and bark , as well as developing  flowerheads.  All of these I enjoy recreating in watercolour, acrylics, mixed media and even needlework; there are no boundaries!’

Gertrude Jekyll’s Garden at Lindisfarne

A recent visit to Lindisfarne provided Caroline Egglestone with an extremely memorable sketching opportunity.  ‘An exquisitly designed Lutyen’s  bench gave a superb view across Gertrude Jekyll’s  Garden overflowing with scented  Bourbon roses and sweat peas towards the dramatic Castle buildings. I could really appreciate her amazing talents and tenacity, executing such a contemporary Garden in that remotely, wild but beautiful location.’

A hungry bumble bee at Breezy Knees

Beryl Brown finds Breezy Knees Gardens never fail to inspire her as both artist and gardener.’Do allow yourself lots of time to enjoy the impressive displays of plants covering such a huge area. On my last visit the pollinators were making the most of the hot sunshine and I managed to capture a photo of one on Digitalis parviflora, an inspirational study for a subsequent painting’.

In  April this year, Anne Turk visited Mallorca . ‘ My first wildflower holiday and it proved to be a gem!  Showy giants included Hypericum  balearicum,  Asphodelus microcarpus, three varieties of cistus, field gladioli and Paeonia cambessedesii. However, there were many other smaller treasures to find; Cyclamen balearicum, Muscari comosum,  Allium roseum, and the stunning mirror orchid, Ophyrus speculum, only three inches tall. I’m already working on pastel colours to use for the cistus and paeony .  However, my greatest challenge will be to replicate the wonderful glitter of the mirror orchids!’

Ophyrus speculum, mirror orchid

On a visit to Burton Agnes 5 years ago, Doreen Pass was so inspired by the Artists in Residence exhibiting in the summerhouse that she applied for a slot the following year. ‘I have been there every year since. Painting in the walled garden before the visitors arrive is delightful. Sometimes the echiums are covered in blue flowers, attracting the bees. When the roses are in full bloom the perfume is so memorable and the magnolia ‘Vulcan’ with its dew in the early morning is unforgettable. I only hope that my paintings reflect my delight.’

Doreen painting at Burton Agnes

Jo Gittins sums up how we all feel about this wonderful resource ‘There is such an infinite variety of form and colour to be found in the world of plants that senses can suffer an overload. My compositions aim to capture an observed, albeit brief moment, a blend of form, colour and the play of light that gives me joy. This may only involve a small but happy accident of planting in a garden but can equally as well be untended and wild nature.’