Botanical art collection celebrates floral wonder

Grootbos Florilegium features illustrations by 44 botanical artists from around the world.

Opening eyes and hearts to the beauty and value of the landscapes that sustain us all – that is the wish of conservationist Sean Privett, the author of Grootbos Florilegium, a collection of intricate botanical illustrations.

The book, which features illustrations by 44 botanical artists from around the world, was launched at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Society’s Conservatory on Thursday November 17.

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve owner and founder of the Grootbos Foundation Michael Lutzeyer spoke about the inspiration behind the book while Mr Pivett, director of conservation at Grootbos, and renowned botanical artist and contributor Vicki Thomas shared insights into this global collaboration with editor Heidi Bertish.

Celebrating 25 years of conservation in the Cape Floristic Kingdom, the Grootbos Florilegium is a unique collection of botanical illustrations by a collaboration of local and international artists. The collection depicts the rare, endangered and charismatic plants found on the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve and surrounding regions.

Expect meticulous detailing of floral structures, bursting seed pods, brightly coloured beetles, foraging ants, floating pollen and striped field mice, coupled with scientific facts and stories about each plant.

Each chapter includes an up-front collection of artists’ notes, colour swatches, working drawings and archaeological details, revealing a glimpse into the creative process and ancient origins of the area.

The traditional medium of botanical art is given a new lens with the aim to ultimately connect the reader to a bigger picture – one in which the intricate relationship between ourselves, the natural environment, plants and their pollinators is revealed.

Mr Lutzeyer was inspired to use botanical art to showcase 25 years of dedicated botanical surveying and conservation both on the reserve and across the regional Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy.

Together with Ms Thomas, who was instrumental in formulating the plan for a Grootbos florilegium, the Grootbos team embarked on coordinating groups of artists to contribute to this collection.

“My interaction with the people so passionately protecting this environment and the artists depicting it has been a richly enhancing and bonding experience – the pinnacle of a long career in botanical art,” said Ms Thomas on her experience.

Mr Privett said he hoped the Grootbos Florilegium would inspire and contribute towards a deeper interest in, and love for, the Cape flora and all its complexities.

All profits from the sale of books, prints and Grootbos Florilegium tours of the nature reserve and the new Hannarie Wenhold Botanical Art Gallery will go towards the Grootbos Foundation, to be split equally between conservation and cultural programmes.

Grootbos Florilegium is available for purchase online and in-store at select retailers.

The Grootbos Foundation is a non-profit company established in 2003 by the Lutzeyer family. The foundation aims to conserve, rehabilitate and protect the unique Cape Floral Kingdom and to develop sustainable livelihoods for its people through eco-tourism, enterprise development, sports development and education.

One of the botanical illustrations by artist Vicki Thomas.