Back in 2016 I was commissioned to create a number of artworks for the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital, part of a large arts project to install purpose-made artworks throughout the new building, all on the theme of the natural world, to act as a way-finding system through the building. It has taken until October 2022 for the building to be completed and for the artworks to be finally been installed.
My research uncovered a wonderfully rich story of the botanical heritage of Liverpool, the significant collection of plant species brought into the city (up the Mersey) from around the world, their subsequent distribution and cultivation that is still in evidence today. It is a little known story it seems and an absolute gift for me as a printmaker interested in plants.
The background in brief:
There were two key plant collectors in Liverpool, William Roscoe 1753-1831, a banker, poet, lawyer, and politician, and Arthur Bulley 1861-1942, a cotton merchant and politician, both of whom commissioned the renowned plant hunters of their day to collect new and previously unknown plant specimens and bring them back to Liverpool. In the 1800s William Roscoe created the Liverpool Botanic Garden, which sadly no longer exists as a garden today, but the now reduced collection is still maintained at Croxteth Hall and in the Sefton Park glasshouse. In1898 Arthur Bulley established the Ness Botanic Garden, which is now owned by the University of Liverpool and open to the public. Both Bulley and Roscoe have become synonymous with certain plants, some carrying their names, Primula bulleyana, Iris bulleyana, Roscoea purpurea etc., well known to gardeners today.
The legacy of these two collectors is huge - a depth of botanical knowledge and expertise, plants that established the city as the orchid species capital of the world at one time, and plant species that have become known and cultivated throughout the world.
The history of these collections is held within the Herbarium at The Museum of Liverpool which holds records and examples of historical plant specimens within their amazing archives.
The prints :
I have made a series of seven linocuts, each overprinted with lithographic drawings, which focus on the plants themselves, some from the Liverpool Botanic Garden collection and some from Ness Botanic Garden. They feature Orchids, Gingers, Rhododendrons, Echium, Iris and Primula. These original prints have been enlarged and printed to create large panels for installation, but in addition to these I was asked to create a series of four large screenprints, extending the theme and working with Helen Donnelly at Northern Print. (You can see these in the Gallery section of this website)
I encountered a tremendous sense of passion and pride for this Botanical heritage, amongst the people who assisted me in my research, those who care for these collections and are still involved with it or have studied it in any way. My thanks to them.
LBG 1 Orchids
This is one of a series of four large screen prints which depict key plants in the Liverpool Botanic Garden collection. These can be found in my Gallery.
Ness Botanic Garden 1
Ness is well known for its vast collection of rhododendron, sorbus, cornus and other trees, seen here displaying autumn colour.
LBG orchids and hothouse plants
One of a triptych of linocuts featuring orchids among a range of other plants found in the collection now housed in Croxteth Park greenhouses.