From Kew Gardens to the World. The Adventure of a Flower Hunter
Location: Marianne North Gallery
Address: 193 Kew Rd, Richmond TW9 2AA
Marianne North fell in love with the flowers of Kew Gardens. Then she began to travel - from North America to Japan, from India to the Caribbean, all the way to Australia and New Zealand, following the advice of Charles Darwin. During these travels, she depicted 900 species of plants in their natural habitat, sometimes including animals, temples or people. Contrary to the usual water colours of Victorian botanical illustrations, the “flower hunter” created vibrantly coloured high impact oil paintings. After challenging conventions with her solitary journeys, in 1882 she became the first woman to whom England dedicated an entire gallery. It can be found right in Kew Gardens and bears her name - 833 paintings are on display, arranged according to their geographical provenance, allowing visitors to retrace the steps of this artist and naturalist of the 1800s through dramatic landscapes among exotic plants and the stunning colours of tropical flowers. One of these paintings remained undisplayed until a few years ago when, during restoration work, and a surprise was found behind a Victorian poster - “No life is as charming as that of the English countryside and no flower is as sweet or more adorable than the primrose, bluebell or violets that grow all around me,” wrote the indefatigable traveller when she finally arrived home.
Seventy years of encounters, clashes, journeys and metamorphoses, but, above all, an explosion of creativity - all this at the Tate Britain in the largest exhibition ever dedicated to the artistic ties between the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.