Genesis of a Garden: Words and paint used to create vivid images

In a masterful interplay between text and brushstroke, Elise Buitendag – Lowveld botanical expert, author and artist – has combined her unique talents as raconteur and artist to produce a book and series of artworks that beautifully celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the Lowveld National Botanical Garden.

Mpumalanga’s White River Gallery is proud to showcase the work of this inspiring woman at a book launch and art exhibition on 2 March 2019 at 12 noon.

Elise’s coffee table book, ‘Genesis of a Garden’, contains wonderful anecdotes of the botanical garden’s first 12 years and a series of her nature studies. Recording her memoirs as the first botanist involved with the inception of the garden, Elise recalls with warmth and sincerity a personal account of the development of the gardens during the years 1969 to 1981.

The botanical art included in ‘Genesis of a Garden’ was produced over a 50-year period and captures South Africa’s national botanical heritage in a prolific and colourful display, true to the diverse abundance of South African flora.

Drawing on perspectives that reflect close detail, often against a backdrop of distant hills and plains, her paintings present an intensely informative view of species in their surroundings.

“When painting, I cannot separate myself from the miracle of life, especially plant life – their silent energy and their togetherness in a kind of competitive equilibrium,” says Elise.

Elise started her career as a botanical officer at the Botanical Research Institute in Pretoria (1962-1964). After a year at Grootfontein Agricultural College (Middelburg, Cape), she and her husband Carel moved to the Lowveld where she worked for 12 years as botanist at the Lowveld National Botanical Garden in Nelspruit. Subsequently, until retirement, she was employed by the National Department of Agriculture.

Elise is acknowledged as one of South Africa’s professional botanical artists and has authored and illustrated several publications. She has participated in five international botanical art exhibitions, as well as many other exhibitions held in major cities of South Africa.

She painted the colour plates for the book ‘Combretaceae’ of Southern Africa by JD Carr, launched by Everard Read in Johannesburg. Her illustrations have been published in ‘Veld and Flora, Proteas of Southern Africa’ by JD Rourke, and various other publications. Several of her paintings have appeared on the cover of UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties) publications. Some of her floral designs were commissioned by Foskor for a set of porcelain plates manufactured by the prestigious porcelain factory Langenthal in Switzerland.

Since retirement, Elise has been teaching art part-time. After painting botanical art in watercolour for several years, she presently prefers to explore the possibilities offered by oils, expressing largely what she observes in nature.

The exhibition will be opened by one of the Lowveld’s most notable fine artists, Karin Daymond, who has participated in numerous group exhibitions, both in South Africa and abroad. She is currently working towards her seventh solo exhibition to be held at the White River Gallery in 2019.

The ‘Genesis of a Garden’ exhibition and book launch, with its dialogue of informative detail and exquisitely executed artwork, creates a ground-breaking exhibition which will surely become a milestone on the botanical art landscape in South Africa.

The exhibition concludes on 27 March 2019.

For further information, contact Dana on 082 784 6895.