A modest rather tatty notebook caught my attention during a commission call-out event for artists and curators to work with the collection held at the Young Gallery, Salisbury - raising awareness and reaching a wider audience. It contained the delicate observational drawings from nature by Robin Tanner. Undoubtedly some were preparatory sketches for the books about plants to be found locally, in particular, ‘Woodland Plants’, which he produced with his wife Heather.
From the beginning of Western painting, artists have depicted flora in images ranging widely in subject and aspiration, from devotional images in the Scriptures, to still lifes, portraits, and subjects from mythology and secular history. Beyond their decorative properties, plant life usually had a symbolic significance or association that related to the subject of the painting. A plant could be depicted as an attribute, alluding to the identity of the subject or sitter, or as providing a metaphysical presentation on the theme. Even the houseplant in recent years has matured from clichéd ornamental into contemporary symbolic ground. Plant reference by the artist provides a microcosm for our connection with nature.
I wanted to extend ideas beyond the recordings of the delicate plant studies of Robin Tanner into a wider context; celebrating the expanding genres that the presence of flora occupies.
This exhibition, inspired by the work of Robin Tanner, shows what samples exist of works by this artist within the collection, as well as showcasing a more current practise of plant portraiture. The inclusion of works by contemporary artists create an energy and dialogue with the juxtaposing of styles, which is why pieces from the collection held at The Young Gallery are woven together with pieces from invited artists, sculptors and potters and photographers.