Photo credit: MICHELE RODDA

80 artworks featuring native plants on display at Botanic Gardens’ new exhibition

The Flora of Southeast Asia exhibition features a variety of native plants like orchids, shrubs and trees.

Farhana Subuhan

Published: 16 November 2022, 3:29 PM

Over 80 original artworks featuring the native plants of Southeast Asia are on display at the Botanical Art Gallery.

The Flora of Southeast Asia exhibition is co-organised by the Botanical Art Society (Singapore) and the Singapore Botanic Gardens, with the artworks curated by artists from 13 countries.

The top 120 works were selected for the exhibition, with 40 of them on display at the People’s Gallery.

A panel of expert botanists and botanical artists selected these winning artworks based on scientific accuracy, artistic merit, mastery of their chosen medium and its overall impact.

Selected artworks by artists from the Botanical Art Singapore (Singapore) are also featured in the gallery.


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L., MALVACEAE Hibiscus. Illustrated by Goh Ai Hwa, Botanical Art Society (Singapore). PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/FARHANA SUBUHAN.


Vice President of the Botanical Art Society, Kelley Bassett, shared that the exhibition aims to highlight the wide diversity of plants in Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asia is home to over 50,000 flowering plants and some of the plants that are featured in the exhibition are also endangered, she added.

“Native plants are important because they provide the seeds, fruits, and the nectar that are needed for the native fauna.”

Kelley also shared that “botanical art is a blend of science and art” and anything that artists portray in their works has to be scientifically accurate and true to the plant.

“Botanic art as opposed to photographs, can show the entire lifecycle of the plant. You can see the seeds, the flowers and you can see the whole lifecycle in the artworks,” she added.

One such artwork is Teo Nam Siang’s Hydnophytum formicarum Jack. A Singaporean who is trained as an architect, Nam Siang has been painting leisurely for years. He shared that it took him 10 days to complete his artwork.


Best of Show: Hydnophytum formicarum Jack. Illustrated by Teo Nam Siang. PHOTO CREDIT: BOTANICAL ART SOCIETY (SINGAPORE)


Fascinated by both science and art, he said he strives for pin-point accuracy while not compromising on the aesthetic quality of his paintings.

The plant portrayed in his artwork is an actual plant in his house that is native to Singapore. Nam Siang revealed that he has maintained the plant for over three years.

Kelley said that botanic art has more leeway in the compositions and it can be done using various mediums such as watercolour, graphite and colour pencils.

She explained that artists work hand-in-hand with botanists at the Botanic Gardens to come up with scientific illustrations for publications and scientific magazines. They are typically done using pen and ink.


Nepenthes Bokorensis Mey. Illustrated by Hazel Wilks. PHOTO CREDIT: BOTANICAL ART SOCIETY (SINGAPORE)


Visitors can explore the sketchbooks, planning processes and even the various mediums and tools that artists used to execute their artworks at the exhibition.


Teo Nam Siang’s sketchbook and materials used to curate his artwork. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/FARHANA SUBUHAN


Those intrigued by the mediums and want to try a hand at coming up with botanic art can sign up for the workshops hosted by the Botanical Art Gallery.

The Zen of Appreciating Botanical Art is a free workshop that will be held on Nov 26. It is conducted by Dr Mabel Yap, a medical doctor by profession who is a watercolour and botanical artist.

The workshop will allow one to savour art in a conscious manner and make creative observations to explore the intersection of visual art and emotional wellness.

Those interested can also sign up for the Watercolour Florals in Chinese Painting Style workshop that will be taking place on Feb 12, 2023.

Attendees can learn to paint a flower using watercolours in Chinese painting style and capture its essence by using basic watercolour techniques.

The Flora of Southeast Asia will run from Nov 15, 2022 to Feb 15, 2023.

Admission is free for all.

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