"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home" (Twyla Tharp)

It's Showtime .....

The suitcases are packed and it's nearly time to take the hideously long journey across the globe to celebrate botanical art and marriage - though not in that order.  I am very lucky that the Society of Botanical Artists Distance Learning Diploma Course hold their seminar around the same time as a very special anniversary with my beloved.

First stop is Singapore ... to break the journey ... then on to London - a total of about 20 hours' flying time - ugh.  I'm sure it will be worth it though - the first long break in years for my husband and I - and thankfully he really appreciates botanical art and is a wonderful support.

I haven't mentioned that Assignment 6 was the Essay - an opportunity to study botanical artists from past history and compare a chosen artist to a contemporary botanical artist you admire.  I chose Marianne North and Jenny Phillips as my comparisons and really enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about both artists.  We were asked to use a specific artwork as the point of comparison between the two and I chose the Sacred Lotus - my favourite plant subject of all time.
Here's an excerpt from my essay ...

"It is interesting to note that Jenny started in oils and turned to watercolour where she found she was able to show a greater detail and subtleness with that medium, whereas Marianne North started out in watercolour and moved to oils, which became her ardent passion.

Sacred Lotus by © Jenny Phillips

To compare the two versions of the Sacred Lotus is interesting -  to me, Marianne North’s oil painting shows a true sense of vintage botanical style, to fill the page with colour and movement – a happy, striking rendition.  In Jenny Phillips’ watercolour painting of Sacred Lotus there is a great sensitivity in this artwork – the soft gradations of green and gentle undulating movement evokes a sense of peace and tranquility.   A sense which makes the Sacred Lotus, a symbol of purity and enlightenment, one of my favourite plants.

 It is remarkable to think of the adventurous journeys Marianne North undertook in order to pursue her passion of painting in a natural habitat – it must have been incredibly difficult at times, yet due to the lack of family ties, Marianne was probably in a better position than most who are torn between family, duty and passion either then or now.

Whether at the end of the day it affords more ease of working conditions I would say not much has changed.  When painting in situ whether it be Jenny Phillips at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens or Marianne North in Java, once at the location and confronted with their subject they both faced the same difficulties of weather conditions, changing light and evolving plants.  There’s a strange kind of comfort in knowing that it brings us right back to being in the moment and allowing nature to direct us so that the botanical artwork is indeed a mutual exchange."   © Vicki Lee Johnston

© Marianne North - Sacred Lotus (Java)

I enjoyed the essay immensely and felt very familiar with both artists - now that I am going to London I am very keen to visit Kew Gardens and visit the Marianne North Gallery.    I have a good friend Jessica (from Inky Leaves)  who I hope to catch up with there.  There are many other botanical artists studying the SBA DLDC who I look forward to catching up with and have been a great support on this journey.

I will also be keeping in mind the Botanical Illustration which is due shortly after my return - I have done my dissections and study notes and hopefully the plant will still be alive on my return weeks later!

The last of my protea flowers

So for now I guess it's Bon Voyage and a wonderful adventure ahead.  We are also heading to other destinations after London and I will be enjoying another passion - photography - on the roads ahead.   


  1. You are going to have such a great time! I don't envy your 20 hour flight though - yuck! Can't wait to meet you though - I will be in the gardens on Friday, so will text Tod's phone Friday morning. I will also be at the preview on Thursday (later afternoon).

    You Protea is going to be gorgeous - I just know it. Such a fabulous subject, but very tricky with all those flowers inside those bracts.

    Nice to see your essay - I hope you got/get a good mark for it.

    See you soon. Have a safe trip! x

  2. Yes Vicki :''Bon voyage chère amie!''

  3. Bon voyage! you will be on the same flight from Singapore as Waiwai Hove, another SBA student who's not on Facebook. See you soon... Can't wait to meet everybody!

  4. A very interesting post - Have a great trip Vicki!!