It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Arts and Archives 2011 Europe Tour: two additional days in London and five days in Madrid

(The Bauer Unit at the Natural History Museum in London)
At the Natural History Museum we were delighted to have Mr. Armando Mendez to guide us thru the library collections. We were focusing on the Endeavour material, Ferdinand and Franz Bauer and Arthur Henry Church. We saw some of the gems from the Bauer unit and also the brand new exhibit “Images from Nature”. Some of us followed this to Tate Britain to see the extensive Watercolor Exhibit where 800 years of watercolor history was displayed from manuscripts and miniatures to supplies and historical watercolor palettes.
[Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708-70) - Bull BAy (Magnolia grandiflora) 1743; Victoria and Albert Museum]
Our final day in London was as intriguing as the others: In the morning we went through botanical material at the Victoria and Albert Museum where Ms. Annemarie Bilclough had selected for us 12 boxes of rarities from both medieval material and material from the 19th and 20th century arts and crafts movement – unbelievable. We also saw the botanical display in the “lightbox” as well as Beatrix Potter’s paintings from her teenage –years.
Before boarding the plane to Madrid we attended the press viewing of the SBA’s 2011 exhibit with its overwhelming number of 751 entries. 

(Seed pod packages packed in 1785 waiting for to be opened, Royal Botanical gardens, Madrid)
Everything in Madrid was on a large scale, the art collections were huge, the architecture was beautiful and  the material was ancient and in copious quantity. Our absolute high point was the visit to the Royal Botanical Garden to see the material which had been collected from South America during the 18th century (plants, seedpods, wood etc.). We also saw a very nice selection from over 7000 original illustrations which are kept in the gardens.
(from Training in Real Fabrica de Tapices, page 69)
Another highlight from the Madrid tour was the visit to the Royal Tapestry Factory (founded 1721). We were completely overwhelmed. Many of us later saw huge tapestries in the Royal Palace made by this factory . Tapestry weaving continues there today for Royal and contemporary clients(please click here for tapestries; - here for rugs and here for aplique)
(Detail from a tapestry in process; From Real Fabrica de Tapicer. A living History, page 62)

We saw the Prado, Thyssen, and numerous churches with magnificent art. Many of us went also to Reina Sofia. We also were introduced to other botanical applications: tiles and other ceramics and also damascene work of gold inlay and engraving (flower details and plants in the case of Toledo damascene work).

To summarize the whole trip, in eleven days we had seen more botanicals and related items than many of us had even been able to dream about. I could count the same number of participants on the last day as we had on the first, and all of us had a nice suntan. Our muscle tone had  surely improved because of all the walking we had done during the 11 days of travel. We had had a marvelous time – and are now looking towards 2012 and two new countries which are waiting for us to come and explore.
(Please see the photo albums recently posted in the BI-Facebook)

1 comment:

Jessica Rosemary Shepherd said...

Such beautiful tapestries! And those unopened seed packets - amazing - they are like time capsules. Thanks for sharing with us all!