I am currently working on a series of large scale drawings of flowering plants that live in the wild. Drawing loosely in charcoal, I aim to capture the plant's life and movement and for the duration of the work, passage through time. The plants are drawn with their roots exposed, revealing their source of life and energy but paradoxically, also their vulnerability and fragility.
I began the series directly in response to seeing a drawing by Jennifer Packer at the Serpentine gallery in 2021 (an untitled charcoal drawing of a boy on another boy’s shoulders). I was struck by how sensitively she expressed the moment with so few lines and selective detail. I admire Egon Schiele’s emotive sunflower paintings: they appear to resemble his portraits, perhaps reflecting his state of mind and self.
The drawings are a nod to the past – botanical drawings recording plants from across the world; Victorian paintings of scenes in which wildflowers often feature but might be overlooked. The drawings might also point to a future where species are made rare or extinct through large scale industrialised agriculture and urban development.
I am drawing the wildflowers life size or larger, seeking to celebrate the majestic and to foreground smaller plants and less prized plants and weeds. George Perkins Marsh argued as early as 1864 that the smallest of plants have a part to play in ecology and that the destruction of even the smallest part of nature would have serious consequences for the world and its eco-system. We can no longer afford to think of wildflowers as just overlooked plants from an idillc rural past but as species threatened by herbicides, land clearance and over-consumption.