I have heard of people looking like their pets, but looking like their plants? Well, I visited the International Garden Photographer of the Year Exhibition at Kew last week and judging by Ute Klaphake’s entry, it is a definite possibility!
Fine heads of curly kale aside, I was struck by the presence of fruit and vegetable growing throughout. In the same way that Chelsea Flower Show is embracing productive gardening, there were veg and veg-growers aplenty amongst these beautiful landscapes, awesome wildlife shots (there is a phenomenal picture of a metamorphosing tadpole), and dreamlike studio compositions.
A young gardener is shown harvesting her first carrot and there are several portraits of allotment holders. One chap gardens in the Heathrow flight path and is dwarfed by a vast aeroplane roaring over his plot, a striking contrast to the peace and isolation of Andrea Jones’ immaculate veg garden by a remote Scottish loch.
Both Jason Ingram and Marianne Majerus submitted fruity and veggy portfolios, capturing fruit trees and figgaries, potagers and moodily decorative bunches of asparagus. In a visually saturated world it is hard to thrill but the impressionistic and conceptual nature of the photographs lifted the exhibition, as did the often guileless ‘right time, right place, right light’ quality of many of the shots.
I struggled to pick a favourite picture. I was taken by Marianne’s pumpkins on pots, admired Sam Scott-Hunter’s ‘Passion Flower Tendril’ and the image that remains with me is ‘God of Small Things’ by Sam Kirk– a tiny clump of brilliant green moss in a crack in the paving. Plants. You can’t stop ‘em.
The exhibition is open from 14th May to 25th September 2011, http://www.kew.org, but if you can’t make it down to Kew or are too busy gardening and prefer to marvel at art after dark there is a book: ‘The International Garden Photographer of the Year Collection 4’ available from http://www.igpoty.com/shop.asp. The book also contains the ‘Highly Commended’ shots omitted from the exhibition, plus info on how each picture was set up and subsequently tweaked. If you like your visuals, it is well worth a look.
A final note: The competition is open to everyone, amateurs and professionals alike. If you are handy with a camera check out http://www.igpoty.com for information on entering – closing date 30th Nov 2011.