Tradescant’s Orchard:  A Celebration of Botanical Art

May 22 – September 2017

Garden Museum

5 Lambeth Palace Road, London

Tradescant’s Orchard is an exhibition comprising fifty watercolors by eminent contemporary botanical artists, to be staged alongside a display of a volume of seventeenth century watercolors, ‘The Tradescants’ Orchard’.   The original ‘Orchard’ depicted fruit varieties that plant hunters John Tradescant and his son might have grown in their market garden at Lambeth, just south of the Thames River, near London. It was intended as a practical document, recording the size, color, and texture of the fruit, accompanied by charming depictions of birds and insects.
 
After the demise of the Tradescants, the original collection of paintings was passed to Elias Ashmole whose collection formed the core of the famous Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. And now, for the first time ever, these images have been lent to an exhibition outside Oxford, at the newly re-imagined Garden Museum.
 
To accompany the original sixty-six watercolors, 42 contemporary artists from across the globe, from Europe, Korea, and North America, have created new images that respond to these earlier works. Few of the fruits are the same as those known in the Tradescants’ day but the varieties depicted are all heritage varieties (pre-1900), and were chosen by the artists to reflect and pay homage to the original ‘Orchard’. Artist Lesley Ann Sandbach was inspired to paint a pineapple as “a tribute to John Tradescant the younger, who is said to have grown the first pineapple in Britain.”  And artist Pria Graves tracked down the ‘Capron’ Musk Strawberry, a variety believed to have been introduced into England at about the time of the Tradescants:  it may well be the ‘great French stra[w]bere’ in their collection’.
 
ASBA members included in the show are Gillian Barlow, Christine Battle, Bonnie S. Driggers, Margaret Farr, Leigh Ann Gale, Pria Graves, Mary Page Hickey, Barbara Jaynes, Andrea, W. Kirjassoff, Eileen Malone-Brown, Linda Powers, Karen Ringstrand, Elaine Searle, Victoria Shaw, and Esmée Winkel.
 
The museum will be reopening in late May, following an 18-month redevelopment project.  It is housed in the lovely (deconsecrated) church of S. Mary at Lambeth.  The exhibition will be on display through September.

 

  • Norton grape with Baltimore oriole ©Margaret Farr
  • Pomegranate © Heidi Venamore