Aibítir: alphabet in botanicals

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Dan Lawless, Lady Geraldine Dunraven and Dr Hugh Maguire, opening night Picture: Keith Wiseman
Dan Lawless, Lady Geraldine Dunraven and Dr Hugh Maguire, opening night
Picture: Keith Wiseman

by Rose Rushe

 

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ON vellum frames, the suite of botanicals – flowers, trees, herbs, weeds – that lines Hunt Museum’s gallery is a storybook of the natural world’s loveliness. This show is ‘Aibítir’ and depicts the Irish alphabet wreathed in botanicals, feted in fronds, licked by leafy watercolour.

There’s a new crowd behind the works, The Irish Society of Botanical Artists who sensibly, operate out of Glasnevin’s gardens. All the better to capture the miracle of flora minutely, their titles lettered in Latin, English and as Gaeilge.

As Dr Hugh Maguire said in his address, their artistic tribute is layered, referencing also our “historical language and historical heritage”.. a language that invites us “to find hidden depths such as with the Irish for fuschia – ‘deora Dé’, the tears of our Lord. It has a very beautiful meaning in the Irish language version that gets lost in English translation”.

Enough of purple passion; Hugh Maguire would wring poetry from turnip.

He and Naomi O’Nolan were on duty for opening night, welcoming Lady Geraldine Dunraven, Dan Mullane of The Mustard Seed,  Hunt friend Eileen Egan, painters such as Nayana Sandur and the Lawless brothers out to support guest of honour, florist Dan Lawless of Roches Street.

Hocas ard/ tree mallow/ lavatera arborea  by Mary McInerney
Hocas ard/ tree mallow/ lavatera arborea
by Mary McInerney

Dan boomed out about the delicate, inventive paintings, observing that “plant life has been portrayed by man in caves to the ancient Greeks”. He made the point that “wherever explorers and adventures went they picked, and then drew and painted when they came back and that was record” of epic voyage over foreign.

No working of oars is required to appreciate the 59 works that circle in eloquent creamy creativity, helping us learn our ‘abc’ anew. Do you know your Devil’s Bit from Succisa Pratensis from Odhrach Bhallach? Holly Somerville does, one of these illustrators of the divine in nature.

‘Aibítir’ is open and free to all daily until June 28 at Hunt Museum, Rutland Street.