Sunday, 1 November 2009

Botanical Art Bookshop Review - Kew Gardens

Botanical art and botanical art instruction books
at the Victoria Plaze shop at Kew Gardens

Name of Art Bookshop: Kew Gardens - Victoria Plaza shop
Summary: A bookshop to go to if you have a special interest in botanical art, botanical artists and/or drawing and painting gardens, flowers, plants or trees. It's useful and good but could be even better.
Address: Kew Gardens (inside the gardens to the right of the Victoria Gate (see pdf map of Kew)
Website: Gardens: Victoria Plas Shop
Shop hours: Kew Gardens opening times - Kew opens at 9.30am every day except 24/25 December. Closing times vary by season.
Telephone: None given
email: None given
Of interest to: emerging and experienced botanical artists and those who like botanical art
  • extensive range of botanical art books - about botanical artists and botanical art instruction books
  • catalogues from the latest and past exhibitions at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art which is the first gallery in the world dedicated solely to botanical art and which is open all year round.
  • excellent selection of books about contempory botanical art
  • interesting range of books about historical botanical art
Think Again?
  • this is a shop which focuses on gardens rather than art so few general art books.
  • selection of books on display could be improved

There aren't many places you can go and be sure of finding botanical art books - but the Victoria Plaza shop at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew is one of them. Alongside its vast and extensive range of books about gardens, plants trees and flowers and all things botanical are the shelves for the botanical books

One of the highspots of my regular trips to Kew is ending up in the shop, next to the Victoria Gate, just before I leave to see what's new on the botanical art shelves. Or to see sometimes what's now on display which hasn't been around for a while.

My visits suggest there is usually one complete set of shelves devoted to botanical art books - about the art and the artists - including most of the good books about contemporary botanical art published in recent times. This now includes the catalogues from the two or three exhibitions each year at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery. It also includes Dover publications of etchings and fine art prints of botanical art from the past - which I find quite fascinating.

Books range from the very expensive through to the very reasonable. I've ummed and ahhed over quite a few in my time but very varely leave without at least one new book! I'm one of those people who needs to see some books in my hands before I buy them. When that's the case I invaribaly always buy them from the shop that's taken the trouble to stock them rather than online - on the basis that if we don't do that we soon won't be able to see them before we buy!

Another set of shelves is devoted to art instruction books with many of the popular books about botanical art. It also includes more general books about painting landscapes and trees.

It is however a botanical art bookshop which could be even better. I could improve the selection they keep in regular stock if they'd let me make suggestions! For example there are some really excellent botanical art instruction books which are not on display (see my Book Review: Botanical Illustration by Valerie Oxley). I also couldn't see the Society of Botanical Artists books this time around which is unusual. Stock levels also looked rather lower than usual.


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