by Davina Jelley

‘A Herbarium – a collection of preserved plant specimens. These specimens may be whole plants or plant parts: these will usually be in a dried form mounted on a sheet, but depending on the materiel, may also be kept in alcohol or another preservative.’

The hands pictured above all have one thing in common, they belong to artists of course, but the skill they share is that of the carver. As the artists bid their farewells at Lytes Cary Manor the other evening they spontaneously compared hands to see how their chosen craft had left its mark and to take a visual note – jesting that they will only get more calloused and bent from future years of chiseling, hammering and making.

This was a light hearted end to a very pleasant evening following months of hard work for all those involved with the current exhibition commissioned by Carol Carey of Somerset Art Works. Entitled HERBARIUM, the exhibition is set within the magnificent Arts and Crafts gardens that surround the medieval manor house and took its inspiration from Henry Lyte’s Niewe Herball; which was one of the first translations of a Herbal Remedies Manual. The original, the Cruydeboeck, was published in Dutch in 1578 and Lyte dedicated his translation to Queen Elizabeth I in 1578.


Guests to the opening were greeted with welcoming speeches from Carol Carey, the National Trust’s Tim Turner and the exhibition’s curator and director of London’s Flow gallery, Yvonna Demczynska. The drinks flowed, there was a delicious array of food and the summer rain held off allowing SAW patrons to wander at their leisure throughout the gardens discovering the sculptures in situ and meeting with the artists involved.

Martin Dowling cloud vessels 5

Gary Breeze 3

O'Sullivan McWalter 4

Herbarium is open until the 30th September and features work by Annemarie O’Sullivan & Tom McWalter, Gary Breeze, Malcolm Martin & Gaynor Dowling, and Alison Crowther. I would highly recommend a visit, the work created sits beautifully and unobtrusively within the stunning grounds of Lytes Cary – plant aficionados will be in their element and if you are a craft lover may I suggest you visit during one of the regular Saturday craft fairs for a double fix of creativity; dates for which can be found on the National Trust Lytes Cary website. Please do note that National Trust opening times and charges apply if you wish to visit.

I’m looking forward to returning on the 22nd July when SAW has organised an informal afternoon of specialist talks aimed at artists, makers and craft gallery owners. The speakers are Yvonna Demczynska, Alison Crowther, Liz Clay and Jan Ollis. I am also hoping that the sun shines so that I may view the Herbarium sculptures in a different light and capture some more shots with my lens.

Martin Dowling cloud vessels

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All photographs Davina Jelley

Published on July 7, 2016 // Davina Jelley