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ABA at The RHS Botanical Art and Photography Show 2022

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

Review by Elaine Allison

For a second year running the Royal Horticultural Society have partnered with the Saatchi Gallery in London to present the 2022 exhibition of the best in botanical art and garden photography by global artists.

The Royal Horticultural Society is the largest horticultural Society in England and has, since its' inception in 1804, employed botanical artists whose task is to create accurate images for recording the structure of plant material. The recent partnership with the Saatchi Gallery (first established in 1985), brings together the areas of contemporary art and botanical imagery. This prestigious partnership recognises the resurgence in popularity of botanical art over the last 30 years and exhibits in the same galleries as contemporary artists like Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol.


© Silene flos-cuculi and Polyommatus icarus by Jackie Isard

Having previously visited and exhibited at the RHS Botanical Art Show in the RHS Lindley Halls the feel of this exhibition space is completely different. Great space, high ceilings and beautifully uniform white light gives the gallery an elegance and calm which contrast totally with the noise and bustle of the previous RHS exhibition halls. Lost are the meetings with artists and the different stands but in their place is a beautifully presented, contemporary exhibition of botanical art which I feel gives the works a certain kudos which was perhaps lacking in the old space. The exhibition is also open for three weeks rather than three days giving more people the opportunity to see it.

Charlotte Brooks* and her team have created a professional and elegant exhibition where the artworks invite immediate attention and the surroundings offer no distraction.

Of the 23 botanical artists that had made it through the rigorous selection process 6 are members of ABA and all were awarded a prestigious RHS medal. Having exhibited in 2019 I know how much work, research and time it takes to produce each image and it was a privilege for me to be able to view this without crowds at the press release. This post will unashamedly focus on celebrating the achievements of our six ABA artists.

Jackie Isard SBA Fellow CBM- Wet Meadow Wildflowers - their pollinators and as food plants -Watercolour

Jackie Lives and works in Bristol.

GOLD Medal

These beautiful executed and delicate series of six pieces of work document the wildflowers which are found in our wetland meadows. With so much of this habitat having been lost over the past 50 years it is vital that we document their richness and the interdependence of species within the habitat. A fabulous achievement and a well deserved medal.

Pamela Taylor PhD- Trees Form and Structure - Pen and Ink.

Lives and works in Buckinghamshire UK


Pam's extensive knowledge of the botanical forms and her fabulous execution of trees in pen and ink will be recognisable to all those ABA members who have attended the zoom sessions that she and Annie Morris run. Her work is faultless and exhibited beautifully within subtle frames. This exhibit gives a superb documentation of trees that have survived uncut for decades. A truly beautiful record.

Margaret Fitzpatrick - Threats to the Horse Chestnut** tree documented in 2022 - Watercolour **IUCN red list: vulnerable with a decreasing population.

Maggie lives and works in Oxfordshire


Maggie's work carefully documented the progress of the invasive moth species and the impact they have on the health of a Horse Chestnut tree. The moths are tiny so, to enable Maggie to illustrate them accurately, she and her husband set up a moth-trap. They succeeded in collecting hundreds. Fortunately, Maggie's illustration of the moth is larger than life. Having an old Horse Chestnut in our garden I know the clouds of moths that are released during the year. It is sad to see the impact theses tiny creatures are having on one of our native trees and Maggie's illustrations follow it's impact through the year.

© Rui Jiang - Viola 'Mollly Sanderson'

Rui Jiang Dip.CSBA - Violas (Violaceae) - watercolour

Rui lives and works in Kent UK


Inspired by the re opening of garden centres during the pandemic Rui began to paint these enchanting flowers with their recognisable 'faces' and a creative array of colours. Illustrating these classic plants has been one of Rui's favourite projects and it certainly provides a beautiful display enough to lift anyone's spirits after lockdown.

© Melinda Edstein - Waratah - Telopea speciosissima

Melinda Edstein - Red Flowering, Bird Pollinated Australian Flowers - Coloured pencil

Melinda lives and works in Sydney, Australia


The striking red flowers in this series are so meticulously executed. from the fluffy flowers of the bottle brush and Eucalyputus to the stately petals of the Warratah (left). This series illustrates examples of Australian flowers that are adapted for bird pollination. They come from various parts and habitats within Australia . All are red which honeyeater birds are best able to detect with their colour receptors.

Wendy Smith - Running to Seed - Flower seed heads - Ink on Paper

Wendy lives and works in Kent U.K.

SILVER medal

There is a delightful architectural feel to these images. The execution of each piece and their careful placement on the paper produces very balanced, pleasing images. Wendy's fascination for seed heads and the patience needed to get just what she wanted in her images means she has beautifully portrayed the development of their structures over a period of time.

Wendy Smith's Exhibit RHS 2022

I really enjoyed this exhibition it was like being in a "sweetie shop". Once again congratulations to our ABA artists for their fabulous achievements. If you are able, I would urge you to make time to visit this exquisite exhibition. It is valuable outing for both new and experienced botanical artists to see and analyse the standard of execution of the images by experienced botanical artists.

2022 RHS Botanical Art and Photography Show at Saatchi Gallery Information here

The Saatchi Gallery is set just off the Kings Road in London and has good access to public transport. the exhibition runs until 29th April 2022. Admission £5, concessions available, under 10's free. Saatchi Gallery and RHS members Free Admission.

*Charlotte Brooks is the Art Curator at RHS Lindley Library and an ABA Chair of Trustees.

Elaine Allison - April 2022

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