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Our Ancient and Diverse Brassica vegetables

On the 8th and 9th September we welcomed members of the public to join us for our annual Heritage Open Day event in the John Innes Historical Collections. Heritage Open Days represent England’s biggest heritage festival, and like venues all across Norwich and Norfolk we were joining in the celebration of our history and culture. For these special HODs events we like to not only display a new theme using our fantastic rare books and archives, but also bring in one of our John Innes Centre scientists to tell us about their research. This year we were very lucky to have Dr Judith Irwin from JIC’s Crop Genetics Department talking about ‘Our Ancient and Diverse Brassica Vegetables’- a fascinating tour of more than 2000 years of history of cultivation and study, brought up to date with Judith’s research on flowering time in broccoli.

Display of brassica images from our rare books, 17th to 20th century

Our Heritage Open Day Event for 2016. On display, brassica illustrations across four centuries. John Innes Historical Collections.

Judith began her talk with a survey of the brassicas which are part of the mustard family. The mustards are a very large family of more than 300 genera and 3,500 species. In traditional botanical classification the mustards are part of the Crucifer family (having four petals arranged in a cross). Judith told us that a good place to see the wild brassica ancestor of many of our garden brassica vegetables (Brassica oleracea subspecies oleracea) are the chalk cliffs of Dorset where you’ll see their clumps of yellow flowers. We’re not sure whether this species is genuinely native to the UK or a garden escape. Studies of the plant geography suggest an origin in the Irano-Turanian region, possibly centred on Turkey – but this has not yet been confirmed. A flora of Turkey published in 2007 listed 560 species of Brassicaceae in all.

18th century Dutch illustration of cabbage

Cabbage illlustration from J. W. Weinmann’s 4 volume Duidelyke Vertoning … (Amsterdam, 1736-1748). John Innes Historical Collections.

The origins of our cultivated brassicas were probed further by a Korean-Japanese botanist who was working in Japan called Dr U (his name Woo Jang-choon is today known by the Japanized reading of his name ‘Nagaharu  U’) who in 1935 came up with what is now known as ‘U’s triangle’- a diagram of the relationships between the different cultivated brassica species. U showed that oilseed rape and swede (Brassica napus) is a hybrid between two other species: Brassica rapus (turnip, Chinese cabbage, turnip rape) and Brassica oleracea (cabbage, sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower).

Illustrated diagram to show the relationship between cultivated Brassica species after U 1935

Diagram of ‘U’s triangle’ showing the relationship between different cultivated brassica species. Design: Judith Irwin, John Innes Centre after U, 1935.

Judith then moved on to tell us about the ancient history behind brassica vegetables, from descriptions by the Greek philosopher Theophrastus (370-285 BC) to the book on farming by Roman author Cato the Elder (234 BC to 149 BC) who stated ‘Cabbage surpasses all vegetables. Eat it either cooked or raw. If you eat it raw, dress it with vinegar. It aids digestion remarkably’. It has been suggested that our brassica vegetables originate with the Romans bringing cabbage to the British Isles (Gates 1950), and we know that the Anglo-Saxons cultivated brassicas because they actually called the month of February ‘sprout-kale’ (Wright, 1968). Brassica vegetables were cultivated extensively by medieval religious orders for food and medicine. Much of the knowledge they used probably came down to them from classical sources. Pliny the Elder (AD 23 to AD 79), for example, described a list of more than 80 cabbage-related medicines. The oldest herbals in the John Innes Historical Collections date from the 16th and 17th centuries and are full of advice on how to use brassicas for improving health and curing ailments. We displayed, for example, the popular herbal by Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) which listed many Cabbage–based remedies including: Adder bites, hoarseness of the voice, kidney stones, drunkenness, gout and many more.

Portrait of 17th century herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper

Nicolas Culpeper, author of a popular 17th century herbal that went to many editions. Our edition dates from 1819.

Judith went on to discuss which of our brassica vegetables came first. We think the first brassica crops grown here were the more primitive kales, or ‘collards’. The word ‘collard’ is a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon word ‘colewort’ – their word for cabbage plants.  In the Latin species name Brassica oleracea acephala, acephala means ‘without a head’. Kale has been grown for more than 2000 years: the Romans grew several kinds, and the Celts of central and Western Europe also grew them.

Illustrations of coleworts from John Gerard's herbal, 1636. John Innes Historical Collections

Garden ‘Coleworts’ illustrated in John Gerard’s Herbal, 1636. John Innes Historical Collections.

Kale and Cabbage varieties from 17th century herbal

More Kale and Cabbage varieties from John Gerard’s Herbal, 1636

The next brassicas to arrive were the cabbages: the species name Brassica oleracea capitata meaning ‘head’. Our common name ‘Cabbage’ is the anglicised form of the old French word caboce or caboche – also meaning ‘head’. The Celtic word ‘bresic’ for cabbage, is said to have influenced the Latin name brassica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We know that cabbages were grown in 14th century England because we have a recipe ascribed to the chief cook to King Richard II for “caboches in potage”, this instructs the reader to take caboches and quarter them – see the original recipe here. The commercial cultivation of cabbages in England came later- probably introduced from Holland in the 16th century by Sir Anthony Ashley. By this time cabbages and turnips had also reached North America. French Navigator Jacques Cartier is thought to have brought the seeds with him on his third voyage for use by the settlement he established in Canada.

Colour illustrations of Kohl rabi from a 19th century seed catalogue, Album Benary, 1876-1893

Illustration of Kohl rabi varieties from Ernst Benary’s Album Benary, 1876-1893 – a nineteenth century seed catalogue. John Innes Historical Collections.

Next came the Kohl rabi from the German Kohl for ‘cabbage’ and Rabi for ‘turnip’ with the species name Brassica oleracea gongloydes – the ‘gongloydes’ meaning roundish or swollen, these are thought to have appeared in the 16th century. Other 16th century novelties included the cauliflowers and broccolis. Cauliflower from the Latin ‘caulis’ (cabbage) and floris (flower) – the species name Brassica oleracea botrytis is taken from the Greek meaning like a bunch of grapes. The ‘broccoli’ name refers to its branching character (‘brachium’- an arm or branch). In 1586 broccoli’s were referred to as the ‘Cyprus coleworts’, while the Latin name for them is Brassica oleracea italica (from Italy).

Kales and Brussels sprouts illustrated in Album Benary, 1876-1893

Kales and Brussels sprouts from Album Benary, 1876-1893. John Innes Historical Collections.

Finally, the Brussels sprouts arrived (Brassica oleracea gemmifera) – ‘gemmifera’ meaning ‘diamond maker’ (giving the idea perhaps that eating them made you mentally alert!). These are generally believed to have evolved in the seventeenth or eighteenth century and originated, as the name suggests, from Brussels. Judith rounded off this discussion with some slides taken from the John Innes’s collection of seed catalogues which cover the 19th and early 20th centuries.

A sample of early 20th century seed catalogues in the John Innes Historical Collections

A selection of early 20th century seed catalogues from the John Innes Historical Collections.

These show that seed firms recommended kale to growers as a frost hardy crop that could be relied on when other greens were scarce or destroyed. Cauliflower was ‘rather tender’ and so was sown in spring for autumnal use, whereas broccoli was hardier and suitable for growing through winter for use in spring and summer. Judith drew attention to some of the varietal names for ‘Broccoli’ in the catalogues. For example, ‘Bunyard’s Early White’, ‘Bunyard’s April White’, and ‘Snow’s Winter White’ – showing that at this time (aside from the Purple Sprouting Broccoli) the headed ‘broccoli’ known to the English grower at that time was white not green. To re-inforce the point Judith showed a clip from a 1950s film showing the Spring ‘broccoli harvest’ in West Cornwall- the vegetables in the field clearly looking like cauliflowers (and on the day this was filmed 12 special trains were laid on to transport the ‘broccoli’ to London). Calabrese (what we now call the green headed broccoli in our greengrocers) appeared in our 1935 and 1949 English and American seed catalogues as a novel Italian import.

Illustration of Calabrese Broccoli from a Carter's Seeds 1939 seed catalogue

Our now familiar calabrese broccoli was considered a novelty in 1930s Britain. This illustration from Carter’s Blue Book of Gardening, 1939. John Innes Historical Collections.

The second part of Judith’s talk focused on modern brassica research. Research on brassica is first mentioned in the John Innes archives in the papers of A J Bateman who used them as part of his experiments to work out the isolation distances for seed crops (working out how far apart you needed to grow crops to keep them from intercrossing – to keep the seed ‘pure’). This research helped the seed growers reduce the land area they needed to raise crops for seed. In 1948 Bateman was also studying hybrids between different brassica species, and his records include one of the old ‘crossing tags’ that were used to mark up the experimental plants.

Illustration of archives on Brassica experiments in the John Innes Archives, from the 1940s

Items documenting brassica experiments in the 1940s from the A J Bateman archives, John Innes Historical Collections.

After that era brassicas only become a major part of JIC’s research in the late 1980s when a Brassica and Oilseeds Department was set up shortly before the closure of the Plant Breeding Institute in Cambridge. A lot of the work introduced by the arrival of the ex-PBI staff centred on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana – with its simpler genome and fast life-cycle, and compact form, it is a more convenient plant to work with to study genetics than the brassica species, to which the findings can later be applied. The more complex cabbages and cauliflowers have 3 times more genes and oilseed rape 6 times more to study.

Illustration of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana from William Curtis, Flora Londiniensis, 1835.

Arabidopsis thaliana, the ‘lab rat’ or ‘rosetta stone’ of plant genetics. Illustration from William Curtis, Flora Londiniensis, 1835. John Innes Historical Collections. Clues from this plant are helping scientists unlock the secrets of flowering time in brassicas.

Judith’s research focuses on how temperature influences flowering. Why do we want to do this? Judith explained that climate change will affect when plants flower, and it is also important for crop scheduling (having crop plants ready to harvest across the season to provide efficient harvesting and reduce waste). Judith showed some examples of how spells of extreme cold had wrecked brassica harvests in the recent past. Judith is interested in winter temperature and how plants tell the seasonal day length. Broccoli plants count the number of cold days they’re exposed to because they have a ‘vernalization requirement’ meaning they need a period of prolonged cold in order to flower. Temperature is central to any brassica you grow. The fundamental research on what controls flowering time here at JIC centres on the work of Dame Professor Caroline Dean, FRS whose work on Arabidopsis has produced so much of the ‘road map’ to understanding how flowering time in brassicas works.

Judith’s work, in collaboration with Professor Dean, plant breeders and growers, involves crossing different broccoli lines together to find the gene controlling the trait for how many days of cold (and how cold) the plant needs before it can flower. Their objective is to breed different varieties of broccoli that will be ready to harvest at different times.

Illustration of different varieties of Broccoli coming into flower at different times.

Different combinations of alleles allow us to schedule flowering across the season. New brassica varieties will need changed responses to cold as our climate changes.

The difficulty comes in the fact that the genes controlling flowering are also involved in many other plant characters (including the seeds and pods) – it is important not to adversely affect these commercial traits when producing new brassica varieties with changed responses to cold. The future challenge is to ‘climate-proof’ our crops: to produce crops with defined, predictable flowering times; uniform and shortened flowering period; more determinate flowering habit; and uniform harvest with reduced losses (by breeding for reduced cold sensitivity) for agricultural and horticultural crops and for seed and commercial production. Achieving this goal will require an integrated view across plant development as a whole, and how this is affected by the environment. Judith gave the audience an insight into some of the equipment required to take this research forward, from the state of the art controlled environment rooms at JIC (taking the weather to the plant rather than the plant to the weather) to photo-booths (at the University of Aberystwyth) used to document an individual plant’s growth and development from the start to the end of their life-cycle, a process that can then be digitally modelled.  I’m sure everyone enjoyed the talk and its fascinating insights into 2000 years of brassica history.

 

Further references:

Garden catalogues on display from the John Innes Centre Archives:

George Bunyard and Co. Ltd., Vegetables for Epicures n.d. [c. 1939-1945] (Maidstone, Kent)

Carter’s Tested Seeds Ltd, The Blue Book of Gardening, Catalogues 1939 and 1949 (Raynes Park, London).

S. Daniel’s & Son, Ltd. Catalogue, Spring, 1931 (Wymondham, Norfolk)

Henry A. Dreer, Dreer’s Garden Book 1935 (Philadelphia, PA, USA)

Edmunds (Milton) Ltd, Edmunds Bulbs, Seeds, and Plants Catalogue 1931 (Milton, Cambridgeshire)

Elsoms (Spalding) Ltd, Seeds of Quality Catalogue, December 1943 (Spalding, Lincolnshire)

For a brief history of cabbages:

R. Gates, ‘Wild cabbages and the effects of cultivation’, Journal of Genetics (1950) 51: 363-372

D. Mitchell, ‘The status of Brassica oleracea L. Subsp. Oleracea’ (wild cabbage) in the British Isles’, Watsonia (1976) 11: 97-103.

Jonathan Roberts, Cabbages and Kings: the Origins of Fruit and Vegetables (London: HarperCollins, 2001).

Lawrence Wright (1968). Clockwork Man London: Elek Books Ltd., p. 43. See more here

For more information about Judith Irwin’s lab and their work on brassicas at JIC follow the link.

For U’s classic paper and the now famous ‘U’s triangle’, See Nagaharu U (1935): “Genome analysis in Brassica with special reference to the experimental formation of B. napus and peculiar mode of fertilization”. Japan. Journal of Botany, 7: 389–452.

 

 

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Harvest Moon and the Wheat Wizard

 

Harvest Moon 05

Statue of Sir Rowland Biffen with some historic wheat varieties from the Germ Plasm Resources Unit, John Innes Centre

In September the John Innes Centre celebrated the life and work of plant breeder Rowland Biffen, one of the key figures documented in the Plant Breeding Institute archives which were transferred to JIC archives after the Institute was privatised in 1987. The celebration was planned around a huge wooden desk ‘Biffen’s Desk’ which has stood in our Conference Centre at Norwich since its transfer from the old Plant Breeding Institute site in Trumpington, Cambridge. We recruited an intern to design an innovative exhibition around this artefact, tapping into the University of East Anglia’s internship scheme (a scheme to give paid work experience opportunities to recent UEA graduates). This blog is based on our intern Megan Penney’s work.

_DSC9288 Rowland Biffen Lantern slide: wheat ears

Wheat ears from Rowland Biffen’s collection of glass lantern slides, John Innes Archives

 

Megan began by exploring the archive which included exploiting some uncatalogued glass lantern slides that belonged to Biffen for projection onto walls and poster displays. These images were combined with examples of historic wheat plants sourced from JIC’s Germ Plasm Resource Unit, and Biffen artefacts from the archives, to bring Biffen’s history alive. Megan was also able to cleverly integrate JIC’s modern time-lapse photography of a growing wheat field into the exhibition. By up-ending a couple of the old and stained desk drawers and projecting the film into them she cleverly ‘antiqued’ the moving images.

Harvest Moon 42 Nikolai Adamski talks about wheat

JIC crop scientist Nikolai Adamski explaining how today’s wheat geneticists are unlocking wheat’s natural diversity

 

 

 

 

The exhibition was presented to the Friends of John Innes on the 8th September in an event titled ‘Harvest Moon and the Wheat Wizard’ and the evening also featured informal talks from our present and future wheat wizards, Philippa Borrill and Nikolai Adamski. Christine and David Hill gave the farmers’ perspective on the challenges of wheat farming today.

 

 

Rowland Biffen at his desk with giant wheat ear

Rowland Biffen examines a giant ear of wheat staged by Cambridge University Agriculture students to playfully convey aspirations for the future of wheat breeding

So why celebrate Biffen? Biffen more than anyone else is associated with the establishment of modern plant breeding in Britain. Some of the principal organisations for crop improvement, especially the Plant Breeding Institute and the National Institute for Agricultural Botany at Cambridge, were established to accommodate his plant breeding and genetics. His two wheat varieties Little Joss (1910) and Yeoman (1916) were popular with farmers and his work on yellow rust resistance opened up the exciting prospect of uniting genetics with plant pathology. Though at the beginning Biffen had to contend with some teasing about his introduction of ‘bread studies’ to an ancient University, he ended up being dubbed the ‘wheat wizard’ and his standing with contemporaries secured him a knighthood. His Institute afterwards went on to establish the genetic basis of key traits and identify sources of variation to breed better crops, while also contributing to advances in crop science and plant breeding methods. His legacy continues in JIC’s Biffen Building today.

 

_DSC9279 Lab interior, where bread making qualities were studied

‘Bread studies’: bread making qualities were studied in the lab

 

More info:

For a brief sketch of Rowland Biffen and Plant Breeding Institute history, see http://www.trumpingtonlocalhistorygroup.org/subjects_PBIhistory.html

And the JIC Centenary timeline: https://www.jic.ac.uk/centenary/history-timeline.htm (entries for 1912, 1967, 1987, 1990, 1994).

Harvest Moon 21

Two recent University of Leeds PhD theses take a deeper look at the development of plant breeding in Britain, including Biffen’s role:

Berris Charnley PhD (2011)

http://ipbio.org/pdfs/papers/charnley-berris-agricultural-science-and-the-emergence-of-a-mendelian-system-in-britain-1880-1930.pdf

Dominic Berry PhD (2014)

https://www.academia.edu/7608288/WHOLE_THESIS_Genetics_Statistics_and_Regulation_at_the_National_Institute_of_Agricultural_Botany_1919-1969

 

For more information about the JIC seed bank (Germ Plasm Resources Unit) from which Megan sourced her historic wheat samples, see https://www.jic.ac.uk/research/germplasm-resources-unit/

 

For more information on today’s Wheat Improvement programme (a collaboration between five UK research institutes), see https://www.jic.ac.uk/research/wheat-improvement/our-science/

The John Innes Centre is responsible for the Landrace pillar of research.

 

A selection of the exhibition materials Megan designed can be seen permanently on display around Biffen’s desk in the JIC Conference Centre. We plan to re-use the portable elements in this exhibit in future JIC events.

 

 

 

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‘The Unexpected’ Art Exhibition, 3rd April to 2nd May

Art on display, The Unexpected exhibition in the Rare Books Room

Students Michelle, Jayne, Cecily and Ros discussing the artwork on display in the Rare Books Room vitrines

This delightful project was the fruit of collaboration between Sarah Wilmot, Outreach Curator for the John Innes Centre and Dr Krzysztof Fijalkowski, Fine Art Lecturer at the Norwich University of the Arts. Krzysztof and Sarah met accidently in a coffee shop close to the White Cube Gallery in London. We’d individually trekked in to the metropolis for ‘The Archivist as Curator’ conference and found that we both worked in Norwich. Sarah invited Krzysztof to come and see the John Innes Historical Collections and the idea of an archive-inspired art project with Norwich University of the Arts was born. Five students from the BA Fine Art course signed up for the assignment which was to produce and exhibit work stimulated by or in dialogue with the John Innes Historical Collections. Some responded to the rare botanical books, others to the photographic archives of twentieth century plant and microbial science. The group also had to consider where to situate and how to display their work within the constraints of the display areas available. At the end of the exhibition the students had an opportunity to talk to JIC staff about their work and engage with a scientific rather than arts-based audience which was a stimulating experience for all involved.

 

What follows is a flavour of the exhibition, with an explanation of the artworks in the students’ own words:

 

Cecily Boon: textile sculptures

‘Natural Archive’

Textile art by Cecily Boon

‘Natural Archive’ by Cecily Boon

‘My current practice explores interactive, textile art, using a combination of natural and manmade materials as an examination of the senses. Focusing on the contrasts between the natural and the manmade, the artificial and the real and the cyclical process of nature- to manmade- and back to nature, has enabled decision making towards the material I have associated with my work.

Throughout my practice I have been creating small, textile, sculptures of moss, using methods such as sewing and manipulating fabrics. Throughout this development I have created my own miniature archival collection, representative of a botanical study. I believe situating my work, which represents natural objects, within the context of the JIC, questions the visual aspect of the artificial and the real, through juxtaposing re-creations of nature within an environment that examines nature itself.’

 

Michelle Brown: sculpture

Artwork by Michelle Brown

Book ‘sculpture’ by Michelle Brown

 

‘While visiting the rare books collection at the John Innes Centre I was reminded of the Voynich Manuscript, a 15th century book containing images of plants, biology and astrology. The book is similar in appearance to other books in the collection, but where they differ is interesting. Many cryptographers, both professional and amateur, including code breakers of WW1 and WW2, have attempted to de-code the text. Yet no one has been able to figure out what the book says, making it famous in cryptography. With this and the Centre in mind I have created my own version of the manuscript and hidden it in the collection’.

 

 

 

 

Chrissy Leech: sculpture and wall pieces

Artwork by Chrissy Leech

A selection of cyanotypes by Chrissy Leech

‘The English scientist Sir John Herschel discovered the cyanotype procedure in 1842. Soon after Anna Atkins, an English botanist, used the process to create a limited series of cyanotype books that documented ferns and other plant life from her extensive collection. Atkins placed specimens directly onto coated paper, allowing the action of light to create a silhouette effect. She ‘received an unusually scientific education for a woman of her time’.

Anna Atkins emulated the aims of the John Innes Centre in many areas. In her time, Atkins was a leader in plant science, taking forward new discoveries. Through her study, research and documenting she generated a knowledge of plants which she made available to society through her publications. Similarly the John Innes Centre has rare illustrated botanical publications and the archives include many original drawings of plants and insects, scientific photographs and visual documentation. My contemporary cyanotype prints, inspired by Anna Atkins and the John Innes Centre, are produced by this scientific procedure and displayed in this scientific/research setting’.

 

Jayne Bushell: wall piece

Art work by Jayne Bushell

Wall piece by Jayne Bushell

 

‘My work is a mixture of printmaking and photography. Photography gives me flexibility and the ability to record what I see at that moment in time. It is after taking the photograph that I further develop my ideas in Photoshop. Recently I have mostly worked in black and white, which gives a traditional feel. Printmaking gives a graphic feel to my images allowing more control than with photography. However, the combination of these medias permits me to experiment. I photograph images to use for my printmaking designs.

The image presented here was created using a variety of images from the archives collection that used the traditional ways of photography. By using these images I have created another image in response to my inspiration from these old photographs. I love the microscopic images that were produced in black and white forming very simple shapes, similar to the style of typography that was used in the books’.

 

 

Rosalind Hawkes: sculpture

Sculpture by Ros Hawkes

Sculpture by Ros Hawkes

‘I have been inspired by the exquisite works of Nehemiah Grew. His magnified images of dissected botanical specimens capture the complex patterns of nature that normally elude us. I am intrigued by the uniformity of these intricate cellular structures that are hidden from the naked eye.

I hope that my installation will emphasise and expose the sculptural qualities of these organic shapes by playing with scale and representing them in an abstract way. The use of 17th century oak provides a natural connection to the archives that were the inspiration for this work’.

 

We wish Cecily, Michelle, Chrissy, Jayne and Ros all the best with their future work. ‘The Unexpected’ exhibition was a new venture for the John Innes Centre and we think it showed that bringing art in dialogue with history of science collections can expand our appreciation of the areas common to image-making in both science and art.

 

 

 

 

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The First Moderns: Art Nouveau, from Nature to Abstraction

If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should get along to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts First Moderns exhibition, which among its object collections is showcasing a selection of rare botanical books from the John Innes Historical Collections. The exhibition can be found on the West Mezzanine, and will close on the 8th of December, so this really is your last chance to see it!

Part of a programme dedicated to the history of Modernism, First Moderns focuses on the period 1890 to 1930. The main theme is the use of natural forms among pioneer Modernists. The new natural science had a profound effect on Art Nouveau style. Charles Darwin’s widely-read Origin of Species (1859) and Descent of Man (1871) altered late-Victorian views of humanity’s place and relationship to nature; microscopy introduced cellular life to artists; plants, insects and flowers provided patterns and forms that Modernists applied in designs for glass, ceramics, jewellery and furniture. Connected to this new naturalism was the idea that models of evolution could be applied to human artefacts, society and culture. Nature was seen as transformative, and the use of natural forms was a means to break with the artistic conventions of the past. The botanical books underline the central importance of scientific thought and endeavour to the wider cultural landscape at that time.

Visitors to the exhibitions will find fascinating works from SCVA’s Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau (which include pieces by Emile Gallé and Eugène Baudin) complemented by objects from the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection and from private collections. The items on loan from the John Innes Centre are woven in to thematic sections titled ‘The New Art and the New Science’ and ‘Outside of Europe’. They include a volume from William Curtis’s Botanical Magazine (1879), open at an illustration of the orchid Paphiopedilum lawrenceanum, which shows how closely Art Nouveau jewellery makers studied natural forms. Georges Fouquet’s Orchid Brooch (1898) lovingly recreates the flower in gold, pearls, mother of pearl and pliqué à jour.

 

Orchid illustration, Curtis's Botanical Magazine

Orchid illustration, Curtis’s Botanical Magazine

Orchid brooch by G. Fouquet, SCVA First Moderns Exhibition

Orchid brooch by G. Fouquet, SCVA First Moderns Exhibition

 

Morning Glory illustration by Bunjiro Fujisawa (1902) displayed with ceramics

Morning Glory illustration by Bunjiro Fujisawa displayed with ceramics

In ‘Outside of Europe’ the exhibition explores how Japanese prints and other artwork became part of the visual vocabulary of Art Nouveau. It includes JIC’s copy of Siebold’s Flora Japonica (1870), a book which had immense influence on horticulture and art as it was the first time that Europe and the rest of the world became aware and had access to plants such as Wisteria from that region.

Also included are two volumes by Bunjiro Fujisawa (1902) containing illustrations of varieties of the Morning Glory plants isolated and appreciated as leaf and floral developmental variants and grown in nurseries throughout Japan. These are displayed with artefacts showing the Modernist fascination with the decorative art of the orient and the influence of oriental styles of botanical representation. This is a beautiful exhibition and food for thought for all those interested in the connections between art and science in the modern era.

For visitor information contact:

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia

Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7TJ

01603 593199

www.scva.ac.uk

The featured John Innes books will be returning to our Rare Books Room, so if you’d like to have a closer look please make an appointment!

sarah.wilmot@jic.ac.uk

 

 

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