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08.04.2015- Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited along to a special preview of Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden, the latest exhibition to take up residence at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace. After their amazing In Fine Style installation, this year the Royal Collection Trust are showcasing the best of British botany, theming the exhibition around royal gardens, horticulture and the art of depicting them on canvas. Encompassing a selection of work from artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Carl Fabergé and Maria van Oosterwyck, the exhibition also uncovers some of more unusual pieces, including a selection of vegetable themed table wear, and a gardening manual thought to date back to the reign of King Henry VIII:

Throughout the course of the exhibition, we learn that the concept of the garden becoming a pocket of paradise originated in Persia. Beautifully intricate images and illustrations of gardens can be found across Persian manuscripts, and, from this ancient tradition, the garden as we know and love it today came into existence. Depictions of gardens in Western Europe during the Middle Ages largely found their origins in religious texts, with this idyllic outdoor space becoming inexorably linked with notions of paradise and a utopian existence. It wasn't until the Renaissance that the garden took on a more regimented, architectural appeal- and the birth of horticultural design during this period is traced through many of the sketches and manuals which make up this section of the exhibition.

From here, and throughout the course of the Baroque period, gardens became vast, expansive and expensive- grand, sweeping status symbols which conveyed a distinct sense of power, but which were also depicted extensively across an array of artwork, again intended to invoke a sense of prestige and awe. As it progresses, the exhibition also traces the influence of botany and cultivation on the depiction of plants, as well as capturing the power of the landscape garden as a potent symbol of enlightenment and a social space like no other. The widening appeal of gardening is captured through an array of Victorian artworks, and from here we also learn about the significance and subtleties of the language of flowers.

If you're a budding botanist or an avid artist, then definitely pop a visit to Painting Paradise onto your to-do list. It's a lovely little oasis of calm to visit just a stone's throw away from the hubbub of Buckingham Palace, and I learnt so much from my visit. Now, where did I put my watering can??!

Have you visited any interesting exhibitions recently?

(Image ctedit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)


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