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the Private View

19 October 2021 - Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

A night to remember. The private view of three exhibitions in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Since most of our members may not have the chance to visit we thought a few words and images is the least we could do. We would have loved to have seen you all there.

Our sincere thanks go to Dr Shirley Sherwood, our Patron who has embraced the ReflectionS exhibition from the start and given us the opportunity to display our members work in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, a privilege indeed. We would especially like to thank Maria, Emma and Zoe from Kew who worked tirelessly with the ABBA Team to ensure that our members work was displayed at its best


An autumn evening and a small cluster of visitors standing around on Kew Road, Richmond just outside the entrance to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Six thirty pm on the dot and the gate opened and we were directed to the Marianne North Gallery where some welcoming "bubbles" were being served. If you have not visited this gallery before then you are missing a real treat. Over 800, 19th century botanical art pieces from all over the world painted by one artist, Marianne North.

Entrance to the Marriane North Gallery

While waiting for the other ABBA Team members to arrive a quick stroll around the gallery really did reinforce the the impression that Marinae North was an exceptional individual who travelled widely from Brazil to Japan over a period of 14 years from 1872 - 1885 producing a vast collection of pieces that now adorn the walls of this gallery dedicated solely to her work. If you are in London and you love botanical art, don't miss it.

Time to move on. You enter the Shirley Sherwood Gallery from the Marianne North Gallery down a small set of stairs into Gallery 6.

Directly ahead was ABBA's contribution to the three exhibitions. Zadok Ben-David : Natural Reserve, Elegant and Enchanting - from the Shirley Sherwood Collection and ReflectionS presented as a digital rolling gallery. Lets just say a few of the ABBA team were a little excited and as they say " a pictures tells a thousand words".

Emma and her Musk Mallow - Social Media Team

There was Emma and Marie from the Social Media Team, Elaine the President of ABBA, Charlotte, one of our Trustees and Alan who mucks around at the back end. Martin and Neride could not make it which was a real shame as we see this event as a sign that ABBA is maturing as an association. However, four out of our six members that make up the ABBA Team was outstanding given that this is the first time we have ever met face to face! Since our inception in 2019 we have only ever met online so all our meetings and planning are done in the virtual world.

Elaine, Alan, Marie and Emma

We were thrilled to see that individual artwork from our members looked spectacular on screen and members of the Kew team said there had been a lot of interest in the accompanying stories. As an aside, at the time of writing this piece, we have had over 950 visits to our online gallery in only five days since it was released. This is a fantastic outcome and this exhibition is shaping up to be our most popular yet.

We digress. After the initial excitement, where we had only just entered Galley 6, it was onto Elegant and Enchanting. This exhibition is taken from the Shirley Sherwood Collection and was composed of a selection of botanical art with a focus on work from Japan, China and Thailand with a few surprises including a newly acquired piece "Control" from Damien Hirst.

As always, work from the Shirley Sherwood collection is of the highest artistic and technical quality and Gallery 6 was an imposing parade, with works by contemporary artists at shoulder height on both sides.

A small section from a piece from the Zadok Ben-David Exhibition - Natural Reserve

Then onto the Zadok Ben-David exhibition - Natural Reserve that occupied Gallery 1-5. We don't want to spoil it for any possible visitors but the work of this renowned international artist is both expansive, imposing and beautiful. Look out for the installation "Blackfield" and "Conversation Piece". If you are in London then get a train, a bus, ride a bike or walk - whatever it takes to see this trio of exhibitions. You will not be disappointed.

As time was tight we were shepherded onto the next part of the evening.

On exiting the Shirley Sherwood Gallery we were delighted to see that RefelectionS is now part of the exhibition history of the galley. Something we had not expected. We were also very pleased to see the exhibition boldly promoted at the entrance to the Shirley Sherwood Gallery . This is all due to the dedication of our members who submit their work for scrutiny by an international audience

Shirley Sherwood Gallery Exhibitions

Shirley Sherwood Gallery Entrance Signage

The formal launch of the exhibitions was held in the Temperate House. Talk about a conversation piece. On a dark evening the lights from this Victorian glasshouse with the reflections from the plant greenery and from a striking red installation, was spectacular.

Originally completed in 1863 this building has recently undergone a complete refurbishment and reopened to the public in 2018. It now houses 1,500 species and more than 10,000 individual plants, all from temperate regions of the world.

Entering the building you were faced by a wall of red comprising thousands of threads suspended from the fabric of the building.

We were also delighted to have the opportunity to chat with Dr Sherwood and thank her in person on behalf of our members for providing the opportunity for ABBA members to showcase their work. It is great to have the support of one of the icons of botanical art.

Elaine, Emma and Dr Sherwood

The Director of Kew, Richard Deverell gave the opening remarks followed by Zadok Ben-David and then Dr Sherwood. A few more conversations with some botanical art friends and meeting some new ones and that was that.

Dr Sherwood speaking, Richard Deverell and Zadok Ben-David.

So a big thanks to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Dr Shirley Sherwood for a memorable night. We hope we have conveyed a little of the excitement that we all felt on this auspicious occasion for ABBA.

As a team we would like to personally thank all those members who submitted work for the ReflectionS Exhibition. Without your support ABBA would not exist.

The ABBA Team

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1 Comment

Thank you so much for a lovely summary, it must have been a really exciting occasion, even more so considering the restrictions of the last 20 month. i feel very privileged to be part of it.

thanks to you all,


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