The Garden’s multigenerational project began in Summer 2014. Centered around an exhibition of prehistoric plants, Oerplanten Atelier (Prehistoric Plants Workshop) consisted of workshops about drawing, photography, etching and monotype.
Hanneke Jelles, the Garden’s Director of Education, discussed this project at a recent international congress on education in botanic gardens. She explained that while addressing “plant blindness” was one of their motivations, it was not the Garden’s only motivation. The multigenerational format was conceived partly out of the Garden’s need to connect with the 20-somethings in Leiden who were not visiting the botanic garden.
To reach out to this group, the Garden hit the streets running. Hanneke explained the Garden marketed heavily to college students (art students specifically) and encouraged students to bring a grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc. with them to the workshop. She explained the Garden also reached out to members of Leiden’s older population and paired them with young adults.
Their planning and hard work paid off. Soon after the program was launched, the Garden’s classrooms and public spaces filled with conversations between young and old. Leiden’s experienced residents shared their recollections of plants and told stories, while younger residents learned how plants were grown and used. All the while the generations bonded, learned new things about each other, and everyone discovered new things about plants and the arts. Making their success even sweeter, the Garden saw a change in the 20-something crowd. It turns out botanical gardens aren’t such a bad place after all.
The Oerplanten Atelier project generated a lot of interest in plants and botanical illustration. So much so, that Hortus botanics Leiden is launching a course in technical drawing this fall, free for college students. This course will be taught by scientific illustrator and botanical artist, Esmeé Winkel.
In a series of six days, a group of 2/3 students and 1/3 other interested people will learn about different aspects of drawing. For the college students the course is free of charge. The aim is not to make beautiful pictures, but to make clear pictures, that demonstrate what the students have seen in the subject they are drawing. Drawing is used as a method to concentrate on an object, to look at it very intensely, and to report what is discovered. Topics to be covered are: pollinators and plants (line), making field notes (quick and complete), leaves and cups (hair structures), fruits (volume), seeds (pen and ink, dissecting microscope), tropical plants (details). People can choose to attend all the days, or choose the days and subjects that suit them best.
We expect that the mix of university students and other people will give a good atmosphere, as it did during the ‘oerplanten atelier’ (prehistoric plants atelier) last year. We also feel that offering workshops in scientific drawing meets a need of our visitors.
Hortus botanicus Leiden also offers many public programs about plants and botanical art by Anita Walsmit Sachs. While most of these programs are in Dutch, some are in English. Anita’s upcoming classes include a five-day summer workshop (July 27-31, 2015) and a four-day winter workshop (November 3-6, 2015). Visit Anita’s website for more information (or view English version).
Oerplanten Atelier Slideshow
Photos courtesy Hortus botanicus Leiden.