The duel history of botanical art and botanical Illustration are not mutually exclusive. The term botanical art is commonly used to encompass botanical illustration, yet distinctions can be differentiated between the two. Botanical art is the general term associated with the traditional field of botany and plant identification, even though botanical illustration is the more accurate label. The boundaries are blurred. Yet, Botanical Illustration’s primary goal is not for art, but to portray plants with the precision and level of detail required for taxonomic specimen recognition.

Botanical art has not been adopted as a specific design or communications tool for plant sustainability and environmental communications.  We have seen that it is attractive enough to have made its way into popular culture as decorative art. However, there is currently no strategy or artistic method that exists to reform botanical illustration as a ‘communications tool,’ leveraging contexts of popular culture. Graphic designers take the liberty to apply botanical illustration in an abstract and contemporary manner for signage, packaging of consumer goods, promotional and communication material, just as interior designers will take aspects of botanical art purely for the decorative aesthetic.

It is evident that botanical art is still accessible, relevant, and widely used in the field of plant sciences. Harnessing the influence botanical art has in popular culture and strategically channeling it, for environmental education and communications, is a task. Contemporary botanical art requires a level of appreciation, such as was seen in the 18th century, to achieve greater awareness in the broader community. To achieve this, it requires rethinking and reforming the way botanical art is constructed, represented, and implemented, while reflecting on and leveraging tried principles and practices that drive marketing communications.

Many forms of art are engaged to discuss environmental issues. However, botanical illustration is not recognised as an ‘eco-art approach’ or tool for communicating environmental issues. This is perhaps due to its specific scientific purpose and lack of abstract or imaginative repurposing. Yet, it does disclose information by way of its original, realistic appearance, and accurately and aesthetically delivers the extraordinary beauty and diversity of plants.

The Efflorescence Project aims to redress this by exploring and developing new environmental communication strategies and combining botanically designed imagery to present the science and sustainable living propositions in a way that informs, inspires, and ultimately shifts attitudes and behaviour towards plant life.

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