Botanic Japan: Botany and Scientific Illustration

Wednesday 9 November, 2016
7:00pm GMT

Toshiba Lectures in Japanese Art and Science

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Cambridge Cottage, 37 Kew Green, Richmond, TW9 3AB


Masumi Yamanaka (Artist)

Nicholas Hind (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew)

About the Talk

One of the most beautiful, colourful and precise of all technical drawings, botanical art has taught us much about the complex world of botany and continues to enthral many of us to this day. Its history is rich and extensive,and the horticultural regions covered are equally vast. As Japan engaged with the West, botanical images of Japanese plants and flowers were relayed back to Europe by Westerners. They appeared as reproductions in much coveted publications such as Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold’s Flora japonica (1835–1870) and Engelbert Kaempfer’s The History of Japan (1727), and stoked curiosity and imagination about the flora and fauna of the lands in the Far East.

To celebrate the third Toshiba Lectures in Japanese Art and Science, the Sainsbury Institute invites Masumi Yamanaka, one of the most celebrated botanical artists working at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to guide us through the world of horticultural images. Joined by Dr Nicholas Hind and Dr Mark Nesbitt (both from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) in her first and second of the three-part lectures respectively, Masumi will explain why botanic art is much more than ‘pretty water-colour’ paintings.

Admission free. All welcome. Places are limited and booking is essential.

About the Speaker

Masumi Yamanaka moved to London in 1987 to work for Marks & Spencer as a ceramic designer. She has since worked for ceramic manufacturers and retailers such as Royal Doulton, Portmeirion, The National Trust, Vista Alegre (Portugal), and Crate & Barrel (U.S.A), before studying botanical illustration under the renowned botanical artist Pandora Sellars. Masumi has shown her work at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), including a series of Camellias at the London Flower Show, for which she was awarded a Silver-Gilt Medal. Further prestigious recognitions include the Margaret Granger Memorial Silver Bow from the Society of Botanical Artists and a gold medal from the RHS in 2010. Her work has been featured in a number of key exhibitions including the Kew’s Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art exhibitions on Trees (Winter 2009), Bulbmania (Summer 2010) and Kew Artists (Spring 2011). In 2015 the Shirley Sherwood Gallery staged an exhibition of Masumi’s work illustrating Kew’s Heritage Trees, which included some of the oldest and most iconic specimens in the Gardens. The accompanying publication titled Treasured Trees received critical acclaim. Masumi’s work is held in both public and private collections throughout the world. She is Japanese Exhibition Coordinator at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and has been a freelance artist based in the Herbarium since 2007.

Nicholas Hind

Nicholas Hind obtained his PhD from the University of Reading in 1989 and has been working at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew since 1985. He has researched the world’s largest family of flowering plants, the Compositae (aka the Daisy, Lettuce, Thistle, or Sunflower family), for the whole of his professional botanical career. Nicholas has been a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London since soon after joining Kew. For a few years he has served on the judging panel for the Jill Smythies Award – awarded annually by the Linnean Society to an exceptional botanical artist. He has also served as a botanist on the judging panel for the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society, where works are accepted (or otherwise) for inclusion into the Society’s art collection. Nicholas is also an art collector and art commissioner having bought many paintings from RBG, Kew’s Art Gallery in its early days in Cambridge Cottage, and has a diverse collection of both botanical art and ‘flower paintings’ from a wide range of artists. On a regular basis, in his current position of Research Leader, he commissions illustrations of new species. He is also on the editorial committee of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, which has been publishing colour plates and black and white illustrations since 1787. As Chairman of the Margaret Mee Fellowship Programme Committee he oversees the annual award of a five month Artist Fellowship to a worthy Brazilian artist to come to Kew. Nicholas has carried out field work in both Brazil and Bolivia, and has collected and described several new species, and a couple of new genera, based on his collections.

 Mark Nesbitt

Mark Nesbitt has worked at Kew since 1999, and is currently Research Leader for Economic Botany, and curator of the Economic Botany Collection. Mark took his first degree in agricultural botany at the University of Reading, followed by 15 years research on the archaeology of plants in the Near East. His current research interests reflect Kew’s central role in the history of colonial botany, with special interests in the histories of botanical museums, medicinal plants and plant fibres. Mark will discuss the history and importance of some of Kew’s rich and unusual collections of lacquer, handmade paper and other items from Meiji Japan.

Toshiba Lectures in Japanese Art and Science Series | 9, 11 and 17 November 2016

Botanic Japan: Visualising Science

9 November 2016 – 7pm

Botany and Scientific Illustration

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Cambridge Cottage
37 Kew Green
Richmond, TW9 3AB

11 November 2016 – 2:30pm

The Japanese Collection at Kew

The British Musuem, BP Lecture Theatre
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG

17 November 2016 – 6pm

“Flora Japonica”

Norwich Cathedral Hostry (Weston Room)
Norwich NR1 4EH

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