I have been experimenting with mixed media this week and it isn’t ready to be seen yet, so I decided to write about another of the books in my art library. It is right next to “From Hogarth to Keene” on the shelf and I thought I must share it one day, but I didn’t expect it to be this week.
I hadn’t heard of Marianne North before I found the book “A Vision of Eden” in a second hand bookshop. It is part autobiography and part biography. She described how she learned to paint flowers.
After her mother died they moved to London and often visited Kew Gardens which made her want to visit the tropics. She traveled Europe with her father and later many other parts of the world, and wherever she went she painted the flowers.
Eventually she had so many paintings that Sir Joseph Hooker offered to house her paintings at Kew, and she had a gallery specially built. Sir Joseph Hooker gave her introductions to botanists all over the world and they helped her access the plants she wanted to paint. She discovered many new species and brought them back to Kew.
Having learned about the Marianne North Gallery, I couldn’t rest until I had visited it. I was living in London and had visited Kew Gardens many times (I loved the Palm House) but I hadn’t noticed the gallery. So I went and looked for it.
The photo of the gallery in the book didn’t prepare me for the vision that met me when I entered the gallery. The paintings glow like jewels.
I don’t know if you can read the text under the photo. It says that there are 832 paintings in the two rooms.
Below are some more photos of pages from the book. One is a photo of the other room and there are photos of a few of the paintings to give you an idea of the impact.
Do visit the Marianne North Gallery in Kew Gardens if you have the opportunity.