Susannah Blaxill is a botanical illustrator. She has an extraordinary talent for creating incredibly lucid and rather mouthwatering illustrations of fruit, veg and other species of the plantae kingdom. Originally born in Australia, Susannah relocated to the UK to study Art at the University of East Anglia before becoming a member of the Society of Botanical Artists. As far as I can tell, she moved back to her native Australia but still has strong connections with the society.
Susannah’s work is produced in a mixture of mediums. She utilises charcoal and pencil to great effect, but for me the almost scientific realism of her watercolours is jaw-dropping. These illustrations are so cleverly detailed that when I stare at them I find myself imagining strange sensations: the springy gloss of a beetroot leaf in my hand, the soft melony smell of a cut butternut squash or the way that seaweed feels underfoot on a beach.
I’m a huge fan of botanical illustration work and whilst studying on my horticulture course last year, I indulged in a rather obsessive passion for buying old field-guides that only featured illustrations for recognition purposes rather than photos. Although helpful, I mainly bought them so I could compare the quality of the illustrations. If I’d have come across Susannah’s work before then, I could have avoided the whole expensive process. Still, the books are rather nice things anyway.
I’m left longing to see some of this work close up and I see that from time to time, Susannah’s work has been shown at Kew gardens in various exhibitions. I will be eagerly awaiting the next one. Until then, we may have to settle for a wander around her online greenhouse.