“I can’t help myself when I see flowers,” says botanical artist and illustrator Neera Joshi. “ I have to paint them.”
Outside her studio, the spring garden is blooming with bright pink azaleas, orange daisies, and lush calla lilies. They were splashes of colour against a city shrouded in smoke this week.
Inside, Joshi sits cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by framed botanical artwork. On Tuesday, 32 of her paintings will be on display at Siddhartha Art Gallery for a three-week-long exhibition supported by the Nepal Britain Society.
“Many people do not know what botanical art is because they have never seen it,” explains Joshi. “It is a means visual communication that will enable Nepalis to recognise and appreciate our rich and varied biodiversity.”
Indeed, the relatively unknown art form typically comprises botanical illustration and botanical art. While both styles need to be scientifically accurate, and require equipment different from other art forms, botanical drawings are more scientific, the figures need to be precise and to scale, and they contribute to scientific studies and plant identification.
Botanical art, meanwhile, allows for more focus on the aesthetics and the creative process. Joshi plays to both of those styles in her artwork.
Half of her collection for the exhibition includes flowers native to Nepal— from wildflowers of Champadevi done in greens and browns to the soft pink Luculia gratissima and Himalayan blue poppies. The other half are exotic plants, ranging from orchids in pinks and yellows to kalakaua, magnolias, and more.