Journal

8th January 2024

Monochrome Awards 2023 – Amateur Fine Art Award

The Monochrome Awards are primarily aimed at people of whom photography is a passion and a way of life. It is a platform where professionals and amateurs can enter their shots amongst a sea of ambitious and creative community of photographers from around the world.  I love monochrome photography, as colour can often be a distraction to the simple beauty of the image.  I was therefore delighted to have received an ‘Honorable Mention’ for two of my images in the fine art category for amateurs.

Poppy Frills

 

Papaver rhoeas ‘Pandora’

16th June 2023

RHS Botanical Art & Photography Show 2023

I am delighted to have had a portfolio of my work entitled ‘Dried Dahlias’ on display at the Saatchi  Gallery, London as part of the RHS Botanical Art and Photography Show, 16 JUNE – 9 JULY 2023.  Entries for the show went through a meticulous pre-selection process, where the scientific accuracy, technical skill and aesthetic appeal of the work were reviewed by an expert judging panel.

I was thrilled to have been awarded a silver gilt.

 

26/05/2023

IGPOTY Awards for Two Black & White Images

I was absolutely delighted to be awarded Highly Commended for not one, but two of my recent submissions to the International Photography of the Year (IGPOTY, 2023) in their black & white category.  International Garden Photographer of the Year is one of the world’s most respected photography competitions and exhibition, particularly within the genres of garden, plant, flower and botanical photography and is supported by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London.

Black and white photography is naturally emotive.  Within botanical photography stripping away the colour from an image automatically forces you to focus on the texture, structure and posture of the flower.

My first image entitled ‘Bridal Silk’ can be viewed on the website of IGPOTY herePapaver rhoeas ‘Bridal Silk’, is aptly named as the pure white petals appear like silk. Initially taken as a high key shot to focus on the translucency of the petals, I have then used the invert tool (after converting to black and white) in the post-processing.  The inversion of the black and white image further highlights the delicate nature of the petals.

Papaver rhoeas ‘Bridal Silk’

The second image, and a personal favourite, is entitled ‘Pandora’ and can be viewed on the IGPOTY website here.  I particularly like the simplicity and elegance of the flower.  Photographing poppies is not without its difficulties, perfecting the art of positioning the flower whilst retaining the beautiful pose of petals is quite something!  I was particularly pleased, as this image was taken just after a light rainfall, hence the droplets of water on the petals.

Papaver rhoeas ‘Pandora’

01/04/2023 

From my first flower bed, and wide-eyed trips to Chelsea Flower Show, to a PhD in plants: How beautiful blooms have been my lifelong love

My passion for plants and gardening started at a very young age, and was fuelled by an equally enthusiastic mother.

My earliest memory of gardening is probably at the age of six, when my mother gave me my very own flower bed. It was tiny and right at the entrance to the shed – and therefore rather trampled. However, it was my piece of garden, and I used to be meticulous in looking after it.  Ensuring it was weeded and watered was a proud moment for a young child. The rest of the garden was quite large, with plenty of different growing environments, which made it interesting.

As the years drifted by, my involvement with flowers became more pronounced – whether it be helping my mother in arranging the flowers for church or weddings, competing in the local horticultural competitions, or simply growing vegetables.

A distinct memory of mine, aged around 14, was coming across an old book about sweet peas in the local jumble sale. I was fascinated by a method of cordon growing of sweet peas that it described. Intrigued, and up for a challenge, I persuaded my father to build me a substantial framework for two double rows.  What a delight it was, growing beautiful straight sweet peas, after meticulous tying in and pinching out. They smelled delicious! I would pick buckets of sweet peas to be given to friends and family.

An absolute highlight of my teenage years was being fervently encouraged by my mother to bunk of school for the third Tuesday in every May. Partners in crime, we would head up to London for the members’ day of Chelsea Flower Show, armed with a cheque book.  Nowhere else could you see tulips, roses, daffodils, delphiniums, lupins, sweet peas, clematis, hostas … the list goes on … of such high quality under one roof. My eyes would pop out! It was the equivalent of the sweetie shop. I relished chatting to the nursery growers who were all so passionate about their chosen genus.

Not entirely satisfied, I decided to embark on a botany degree at Reading University. Sadly, there is nowhere in the UK where you can study pure botany today, and I therefore feel rather blessed to have spent three years, totally focused on studying plants.  I was very fortunate to be taught by an array of wonderful professors, all specialising in particular areas – whether it be photosynthesis, classification, plant structure, genetics, or simply moss.

Scrambling up Ben Lawers in the Scottish highlands, to identify ferns, and studying the density of Stipa plants in Almeria, Spain, are wonderful memories of field trips that come to mind. Reading botany certainly fuelled my inquisitive mind, as to why and how a plant survives – which is very useful for when you are gardening!

Having completed my botany degree, I furthered my inquisitive nature of plants by studying for a doctorate in pharmacognosy. Pharmacognosy is the study of plants and their chemical compounds for pharmaceuticals.  Many current pharmaceuticals are derived from plants – such as aspirin from willow, vinblastine and vincristine from the Madagascan periwinkle, taxol from yew, and galanthamine from the snowdrop.

Having completed my PhD I continued to work with plants in the pharmaceutical industry – initially identifying those used in traditional medicines, that could then be put through mass pharmaceutical screening. Over time my career in pharmaceuticals slowly moved away from plants, until eventually I embarked on a natural break to raise my family.

My passion for plants has not faltered throughout, and as my brood are now becoming independent, I am able to refocus. I continue to grow and study plants and now I am able to share this love through my photography.

The development of digital images over the last couple of decades now allows the viewer to appreciate the magnificence of the individual flower. My images are mainly of single specimens, emphasising their individual beauty and being.