ArtistsSee all artists
Rosie Sanders’ unique style of painting pushes the boundaries of botan- ical art with her grand scale, magnified flower paintings. Whilst fitting loosely into the botanical tradition in terms of subject and accuracy, the size of her compositions and intensity of colour set her apart from her contemporaries and defy categorisation. In the large scale watercolours Sanders explores the sculptural and sensual nature of flowers, at the same time capturing their abstract qualities. Dr Shirley Sherwood has described Sanders’ painting as ‘at the extreme edge of botanical art’. Her compositions spill over the edges of the paper as Sanders focuses on the abstract shapes and patterns in the flowers’ surface, unique textures and interesting plays of light.
Sanders explains “Somewhere in my mind I am always thinking about, or looking for, a painting. It is in my blood and a huge part of my life. It is when I am utterly focused that the work seems to flow. It doesn’t necessarily become easier because I can’t say that I ever find it easy, but it is like rowing with the current as opposed to against it.
I spend a great deal of time looking at plants and collecting things together. I inevitably end up with lots of things I never get around to painting, but I like a good collection to draw upon. If I want to paint an iris for example, it is not just an iris flower but a particular flower that just happens to catch the light or bend in a particular way. As each painting
takes a great deal of time, one flower doesn’t last long enough, they fade, change shape and die, so I have to use several flowers for one painting and changes are made throughout but the original idea remains constant.
I am most attracted to strong shapes and patterns, particularly with the light coming from behind which intensifies this so while my subjects are plants, the paintings are not strictly botanical in the traditional sense. It is important that I am true to the nature and form of the plant and the paintings must have a description of great particularity about them. A white flower will change colour depending on whether you look at it outside in bright sunlight or held against a brightly lit window and it could change from palest white to dark almost black and still be the same flower. In that sense I am not botanical but am much more interested in colour and light.”
Sanders started as a freelance botanical artist in 1974. She has been awarded five Royal Horticultural Society gold medals and won the Royal Academy miniature award in 1985. She has written and illustrated numerous books, the most important of which is ‘The English Apple’, a monograph on 122 dessert and culinary apples, which was published by Phaidon Press in 1988. The original edition was updated, enlarged to 144 cultivars and completely re-designed by Rosie and republished in 2010 by Frances Lincoln.
She is represented by Jonathan Cooper of Park Walk Gallery in Chelsea, London where she has had regular solo exhibitions of her work since 2002. Her paintings were included in the 7th Internation- al exhibition at the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh and many are in the collection of Dr Shirley Sherwood, the world’s most foremost botanical collector and supporter. Rosie’s paintings were included in the opening exhibition of the new Shirley Sherwood Gallery at Kew as well as numerous other world-wide exhibitions curated by Dr Sherwood.
Sanders is not only interested in plant studies but is involved in a number of crafts particularly printmaking. A solo exhibition of her prints was held at Hortus Gallery in London in 2001. Sanders was made a member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen in 1997. She was involved in ‘A Printmakers’ Flora’ a collaborative book by the Dartington Printmak- ers, a copy of which was purchased by the Victoria and Albert museum.