Tradescant’s Orchard: A Celebration of Botanical Art is a contemporary exhibition comprising watercolours by fifty eminent botanical artists is to be staged alongside a display of ‘The Tradescants’ Orchard’, a seventeenth-century volume of sixty-six watercolours depicting fruit varieties that John Tradescant and his son might have grown in their market garden at Lambeth.
The artists, invited by The Garden Museum, have selected varieties now considered to be heritage fruits. In the adventurous spirit of the plant-hunting Tradescants, artists from across the globe have embraced the project with works coming from Europe, Korea and USA.
The 17th Century watercolours are from the collection of Elias Ashmole, whose collection founded the Ashmolean Museum, and are considered one of the Bodleian Library’s greatest treasures. The Orchard is a practical document that records the size, colour and texture of fruit with their ripening dates. This is the first time they have been lent to an exhibition outside Oxford, and the Museum are displaying them in a brand new exhibition space.
Despite the constant changes to the Lambeth the Tradescants knew, most recently with the development project at the Garden Museum, the exhibition draws on the little-changing natural forms of fruit. Like Tradescant, “who hath wonderfully laboured to obtaine all the rarest fruits hee can”, the Garden Museum has cast the net worldwide to complete the exhibition. The 17th century watercolours have inspired fifty of the world’s leading botanical artists, whose responses, some even on velum, are included in the exhibition.
This exhibition is supported by Tiptree: “Wilkin & Sons Ltd are delighted to be associated with the Garden Museum’s Tradescant’s Orchard exhibition, which is a celebration of heritage fruit, much of which we grow at our farm at Tiptree, Essex. In addition to the mutual passion for heritage fruit, Tiptree and Tradescant are both innovators and early adopters of new technology and design to increase fruit yield. Our NGS – New Growing System – technology for strawberries is pioneering, just as the Tradescant designs for orangeries and other conservatory buildings were novel over four hundred years ago. We think that gardeners of all ages will enjoy the collection.”