2 weeks ago

Think Ink: Sarah Graham’s Botanical Beetle Drawings


No one is going anywhere. There are no concerts or large gatherings for the foreseeable. And while some galleries and museums are beginning to reopen, we are still not permitted to travel abroad to take in the few exhibitions that are on display. The show is not going on. Let’s hope that over the coming weeks and months, the situation will change. But for now, we are remembering places we have been and taking time to re-savour things we might have once enjoyed, then glossed over as other matters vied for our attention. We have time to make lists of things we want to read, see or save up for … A trip to London in February and lunch in La Goccia, the Italian restaurant at Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden, was remarkable not just for its delicious small plates but also for the art. Largescale exotic botanical pictures in graphite and ink (the latter we found out was gleaned from plants and fish) on handwoven calligraphy paper were simply stunning.

On closer inspection, the works turned out to be by Edinburgh-born Sarah Graham who exhibited in Dublin in 2008, at Ib Jorgensen’s gallery. (The latter was prescient as Graham has since had sellout shows in New York, Aspen, Colorado and at Sims Reed Gallery in London.) While she is known for twisting, sinuous forms of lilies, amaryllis and artichokes, lately, entomology – whip scorpions and stag beetles – has crept into Graham’s work. “Plants are my main subject but I am very drawn to the forms of insects, too.” Her lifelong fascination with the natural world was inspired by her mother, a keen gardener, and her aristocratic aunt Jane Clark who lived at Saltwood Castle in Kent. It was here she encountered artist Graham Sutherland’s landscapes, which were a powerful influence on her work. These days she works from a studio in Chelsea, close to the Natural History Museum, where she trawls through the collection of ten million beetles looking for inspiration. www.grahamgallery.co.uk


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