Over the years the Overstrand has been home to many supremely talented artists. And our fynbos has inspired many of them to render its splendour in artistic expression, none more than the band of talented botanical artists that call the Cape Whale Coast their home. Think of Margaret de Villiers, Vicki Thomas, Lynda de Wet and Barbara Pretorius.

Barbara Pretorius chatting to Karen McKerron at the opening of another local botanical artist, Margaret de Villiers’ exhibition at the FynArts Gallery earlier this year.
PHOTO: Hedda Mittner

Whale Coast Conservation is therefore privileged to host Barbara Pretorius at its public talk on Tuesday 19 November at 17h30 at the Green House. The topic of her talk is “How Botanical Art can promote Ecological Conservation”.

Barbara’s talk will highlight the revival of botanical art around the world as a valuable ally in the conservation of vulnerable flora. Botanical gardens and scientific institutions are offering courses in botanical art and organising international exhibitions. In South Africa botanical art is promoted by SANBI (South African National Botanical Institute) and BAASA (Botanical Association of Artists of South Africa).

BAASA (South Africa) and galleries throughout the country organise regular exhibitions with the aim of promoting ecological conservation of indigenous species. Informal, as well as more formal workshops are organised by well-known South African botanical artists.

Aloe ciliaris

Botanical art, floral art and scientific illustration
What exactly is botanical art? How does it differ from floral art or scientific illustration? Barbara will explain the critical differences, with the aid of many examples through the ages.

At the beginning of the Renaissance, with the rise of Humanism, greater interest arose in botanical art. Barbara will highlight the concepts with examples of work by the most famous artists of the time, such as Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci.

During the 18th and 19th centuries world travel and exploration from Europe took off. Travellers included scientists, artists, and especially botanists. There was a great rush to collect specimens of the exotic flowers from far-flung places, such as South Africa. Barbara will illustrate her talk with examples painted by scientists such as William Burchell, John Herschel and Carl Thunberg – who collected specimens for the famous Swedish Professor Carl Linnaeus, the father of plant taxonomy.

Pelagonium cucullatum

Barbara will explain how botanical art can be used to promote the conservation of plants in Hermanus specifically. We can learn from what has been successful in different parts of the world to further ecological education. The challenge for Hermanus is what we can do with the examples set for us. What do we already do and what do we still need to do?

Barbara will show and discuss examples of endangered plants that she has painted from our area.

About Barbara Pretorius
Barbara Pretorius grew up in the Western Cape, among the fynbos. Some of her very first drawings and paintings were of the flowers, the mountains and the sea.

She is largely self-taught, although there were lessons with an art teacher from the Michaelis School of Art in Cape Town when she was very young.

Although she never stopped painting for pleasure, she studied languages and became a teacher, first for senior pupils in high schools and later for students at a Teachers’ Training College in Johannesburg. She retired in 2005, having been head of the first Afrikaans-medium private school in the country, Jan Celliers in Johannesburg.

Protea sp.

About thirty years ago she started painting the indigenous plants of South Africa, mainly in water colours. In 2004 she held her first very successful solo exhibition at the home of well-known South African architect, Johann Slee.

Many other exhibitions followed, mainly in the Western Cape. Her next exhibition will be held in March 2020 at the Johan Slee gallery in Stellenbosch.

In 2005 Barbara was commissioned by the University of Pretoria to do a series of paintings of edible indigenous plants for a world-wide conference on alternative food sources, which was attended by delegates from more than forty countries. There were about 16 works in this series, mainly of plants found north of Pretoria. Although line drawings and photographs of edible indigenous plants exist, mainly to illustrate scientific works on the topic, water colour paintings of these plants are rare.

In 2006 Barbara and husband Stephan did the sensible thing and moved to Hermanus. She is now a Fellow of the Linnaean Society in London.

Please join Whale Coast Conservation for this fascinating and beautifully-illustrated talk.

About the Author

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Whale Coast Conservation passionately lives by its slogan “Caring for your environment”.

Its small staff and volunteers are dedicated to

  • raising community and visitor awareness of the unique, biodiverse natural resources of the Cape Whale Coast region and
  • to projects that convert awareness into practical actions that lead towards living sustainably.

WCC ensures expert representation in public participation processes that contribute to environmental and developmental policies and legislation.  We monitor regional development; and ensure compliance with legislation and guidelines.

WCC increases general public awareness of sustainability through environmental education, citizen-science research projects, community projects and campaigns.

WCC communicates with its audience through exhibitions, signage, technology demonstrations, workshops, talks, film shows, newsletters and articles.

WCC places emphasis on educating future generations through its Youth Environment Programme (YEP).  YEP is offered to 24 schools in its target area with a total of over 10,000 learners.

WCC facilitates schools’ participation in special events such as Earth Day, Walking for Water, Arbor Day and Coastal Clean-ups.

WCC facilitates educator development programmes to improve the capacity of educators to offer informed environmental content in their lessons across all learning streams.

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