|12 Dec 2023
Westholme extends a gargantuan congratulations to former Head of Geography and Humanities Caroline Jane Buckley, for her appointment as The Royal Horticultural Society artist-in-residence for The Plant Review Magazine. This year, she completed the Society of Botanical Artists' Diploma and gained a Distinction and the Award for Excellence. We caught up with Caroline to find out about all she has been up to since leaving Westholme, and to discuss her journey developing her passion for Botanical Art. You can see more of Caroline's incredible illustrations on her Instragram or website: carolinejanebuckley.com
Could you tell us a little about your Botanical Art journey?
I have always enjoyed drawing and 39 years ago I studied an Art Foundation Course, at what is now Derby University. However, I was uncertain about career prospects and so I changed career direction and read Geography and Biology at Exeter University before pursuing a career as a Geography and Environmental Science teacher for 30 years. I had little time to draw whilst teaching and bringing up my family so it was only after retiring that I began to rediscover my art. As I have always loved the natural world, botanical art was an obvious choice and botanical illustration is the 'bridge' between science and art. Living in the village of Edgworth in the West Pennine Moors, means I am surrounded by beautiful moorland, woodland and pasture which provides me with abundant subject matter as well as my neighbours' gardens, which I shamelessly plunder for flowers and fruits.
To improve my skills and understanding of botanical illustration, I joined The Florilegium Society at Sheffield Botanical Gardens and attended a Botanical Art Course at Higham Hall in Cumbria. Gradually, my work improved and I applied to take the Society of Botanical Artists' Diploma Course and was accepted in September 2020. As this was a Distance Learning Course it worked really well during Covid and in Spring 2023 I graduated with a Distinction and achieved the Award for Excellence, given to the student with the highest mark.
I am a member of the RHS and although I had seen the competition to find the Plant Review's new artist-in-residence, I only applied after a group of friends encouraged me to do so, and much to my surprise and great delight I won!
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
It's really exciting and challenging to design the frontispiece for the RHS's quaterly magazine for plant lovers, ‘The Plant Review’, and I hope to do justice to the growers' beautiful plants.
Which plants do you most enjoy drawing?
I love to illustrate plants from a particular habitat and have sketched plants in the sand dunes on the Lancashire coast and the moorland and pasture on the West Pennine Moors. Plants have so many beautiful and diverse forms, colours and textures that the possibilities for compositions are simply endless.
What are your hopes/plans for the future?
I have been asked to deliver a 'Botanical Art In Coloured Pencil' workshop for The Florilegium Society at Sheffield Botanical Gardens next year and it would be wonderful to utilise my teaching skills to deliver more of these workshops. I have also started to sell prints of some of my work, through my website, and it feels pretty amazing to think of people having my pictures on their walls!
What was your favourite memory whilst at Westholme, was there anything you particularly enjoyed getting involved in?
I have many wonderful memories of my 13 years at Westholme School but I suppose the stand out moments for me are probably the same as the stand out moments for any student of Geography i.e the trips. With the support of Mrs Brown and Mrs Moore we visited and studied some wonderful locations in the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District and the trips abroad enabled students to see some truly spectacular scenery in Iceland, Sicily and the Bay of Naples, West Coast USA and China.
Any advice for current Westholme students?
The advice I would give now is the same advice I gave in my leaving speech in the Croston Theatre - 'take every opportunity that Westholme offers you'.
Once again, congratulations to Caroline! We look forward to see her frontispiece design for The Plant Review and wish her all the best!