With its seemingly endless array of colourful forms and structures, the plant world has inspired generations of artists and illustrators, resulting in a spectacular wealth of paintings and illustrations that have served to inform and captivate its many audiences. Approaches to working from plants refl ect the diversity of source material and the intention of the artist, from the anatomical accuracy for purposes of identification to expressive interpretation. The development of digital imaging within the arts and sciences over the past twenty years has been swift and impressive and its affect on the forms of creation has been marked and unavoidable. We have become as accustomed to viewing images of outer space developed from data sent back from the Hubble Telescope or live views from within the human body. However, in a climate where programmes are constantly being developed to facilitate the production of visual spectacle, the ability to retain the trace of the artist’s hand becomes more difficult. For the past ten years, the author has worked with botanists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, exploring the creative potential of plant material at a microscopic level. While working with a variety of microscopic processes and imaging technologies, issues have arisen concerning the status of the fi nal image. The evolution of the work during this period has sought to address some of these issues.
art and science, botanical art, collaboration, craft, digital art, Kew, microscopy, photography
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