At the Sir John Soane’s Museum in London Lincoln’s Inn Fields there’s a lovely exhibition of the work of Mrs Delany, née Mary Granville.
Born in 1700, in the days when embroidery and art showing pretty flowers was considered charming but not taken seriously because being female then, creating such things was regarded as a hobby. However, Mrs Delany’s is a considerable body of work in its own right, combining such a high level of skills, dedication and passion. Working at least 100 years before Marianne North of Kew Gardens fame, during her lifetime Mrs Delany built up a strong relationship with Kew Gardens who gave her plant specimens.
She started off with embroidery and sketching and then at the age of 72, she began her remarkable series of 1000 flower collages, Flora Delanica, now owned by the British Museum.
Portlandia Grandiflora, © The Trustees of the British Museum
She managed to get hold of glossy black and vibrantly coloured papers to make collages which, looking at them now, feel current, appealing and never twee.
I found it quite up lifting to see a woman’s work from this era held up in such high esteem and not just considered something to pass the time. She went about her work in a very methodical manner, organising her household to store the materials she would use to make her collages and embroideries. The collection of her sketchbooks depicting gardens scenes and delicate graphite fauna left me scraping my jaw off the floor! Through her visual style, techniques and by proving that a woman could be considered a serious artist, in many ways Mrs Delany was way ahead of her time.
Everybody should go to see this exhibition it’s free and at the wonderful Sir John Soane Museum where one should never need an excuse to visit the fantastic yellow room!
‘Mrs Delany’ and Her Circle is on until 1st May.
Posted in art, botanical, craft, handmade, review, vintage