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Pick, Pop, Peek, Pin & Paint Plants

CAST-OFF workshop in the walled garden at Loe Bar, Helston, Cornwall, Uk.

Botanical workshop for families created by Dominica Williamson for CAST-OFF, CAST, in the walled garden at Loe Bar, Cornwall, Uk.

Botanical artists use sketchbooks to study plants out in the wild and in the studio before they make any kind of final artwork. This is a workshop about that process. It is also about insects.

Through the workshop I shared how botanical artists work together in order to build and exchange knowledge about plants. This helps them to tackle a plant they are painting for a scientific archive. I discussed how we look at plant science, use different types of botany books and think about how insects use plants and why.

Looking at the UV output of plants using a simulated UV light and mobile phone

Looking at the UV output of plants,

The workshop adhered to covid-19 procedures and was around two hours long. It was divided into three sections. The first section shared sketchbooks and books and was interactive. It looked at what colours insects are attracted to. It demonstrated how they have different shaped tongues to fit into particular plants. (This year David Attenborough’s Life in Colour covered the same topic.) The second section looked  at the structure of plants, their stems, the angle facing the sun and their ultra violet output and uses pencils, phones and a secret device! During the third section families took plants apart. They also learnt to make up the main colour of a plant with paint by isolating it in a mini dark room. Then they used microscopes to get under the hood of the plant and think about its morphology.

Artwork getting pinned up by children for families created by Dominica Williamson for CAST-OFF at CAST, Loe Bar, Helston, Cornwall, Uk.

A botanical workshop for families created by Dominica Williamson for CAST-OFF at CAST, Loe Bar, Helston, Cornwall, Uk.

Throughout the workshop, children were allowed to pick plants (permission was granted) peek at them through analogue and digital devices (smart phone use was encouraged). Towards the end of the workshop, they were asked to share what they have collected and made by pinning everything up for display under apple trees.

A child showing of their artwork under apple trees to their parent

Cast-off, CAST botanical workshop for families by artist Dominica Williamson. Photograph: Andy Hughes

This workshop was run and created over a two year period for CAST-OFF at CAST.

I’ve kept a running plant list of who painted what and have now built on ideas in this workshop for the Dynamic Dunescape project.

With thanks to

Emma Griffiths, Facilitation
Andy Hughes, Photography and film
Lucy Grant, Learning Specialist CAST-OFF
And all the families who took part and made Covid-19 Augusts special despite the situation.

Want to co-create a workshop?

Contact me