This blog will be particularly helpful if you actually want to go and see Cedric Morris at the Garden museum, as it finished on 22nd July 2018. Still I shall burble on about it anyway.
The Garden Museum is probably one of London's lesser known museums. It has been closed for a couple of years for refurbishment and re-opened earlier this year. It is housed in an old church (as you can see above) just next to Lambeth palace, over the bridge from Westminster. It is a great place for lunch during the week as it has a nice cafe, and as the name suggests an elegant garden in which you can sit. Entrance to the garden is free, as is the main body of the church.
Botanical themed artwork can be seen inside the church, such as Six Hazel Paintings in one Afternoon by Lucy Auge. As you can see they are these very elegant Chinese inspired ink and brush paintings. The surface of the paper is all mottled and texture, and as with all good ink paintings there is contrast in tone within the pictures.
Auge appears again in the museum with a larger much more complex piece consisting of a series of squares each one containing an ink brush foliage picture. The don't quite match up which attracts you in a maddening way.
You have to pay to get into the museum, but this includes entry to the church tower and the exhibition room on the ground floor, which has a changing exhibition. The museum itself is on the mezzanine level and circuits the church. It is of course mainly about gardening but there is botanical art, including some fine pieces by James Sowerby (above right) who is buried in the grounds of the church.
My reason for going was to see an exhibit of works by Cecil Morris (depicted above). He was in the museum for two reasons. The first was that he painted colourful pictures of flowers. Secondly he was really into his Irises and bred several different varieties.
Morris had an interesting life. He founded an art school and among his pupils was Lucien Freud whose portrait of Morris can be seen above far left. The school burnt down, possibly due to a cigarette Freud discarded. The burnt remains of the school which Morris got all his pupils to draw can be seen in the painting above, far right.
Flowers those are the main subject matter, and amazing they are too. Rendered in superb detail and bright vivid colours they are a veritable feast for the eyes. Intricate and delightful and very well composed.
Some of the paintings are very large indeed and pack quite a punch. My favourite one though is the one with the burnished gold background and the orb like yellow pot (above right). The Morris flower of choice, the Iris is dominant in this painting, with the different shade of purple picking out that characteristic Iris shape.
Morris is good at using different coloured backgrounds to give very different feels to a painting. The one above has a cool relaxed feel to it, in contrast to the warm enticing glow of the golden painting above. I like the small purplyred flower with the yellow centre that pokes out from between the foliage. Speaking of which he manages to do the foliage in a way that they have a different light to them, to the flowers.
Anyway, I liked it very much.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.