Perennial Plants · Perennials · Plant Choices

The Sweet Briar – Julia Groves

I chose to paint Rosa rubiginosa, also known as Sweet Briar or Eglantine, for this unique exhibition as I wanted to celebrate this beautiful ancient hedgerow plant, a fragment of a landscape dating back over a thousand years which is now lost to us.

I am fortunate Rosa rubiginosa grows in a hedge along a footpath near to my home in West Suffolk. I have closely observed its seasonal transformations as it intertwines with its thorny companions Blackthorn and Hawthorn, during my daily walks with my lurcher, Tilly.

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Rosa rubiginosa forms part of an endangered wildlife habitat. Hedgerows are ecologically important for food, shelter and nesting cover for a wide range of species. Hedges provide connecting habitat corridors within the landscape, which might otherwise become fragmented with sites becoming increasingly isolated.  Sweet Briar is a vital early nectar source in spring while later in the year the rosehips are food for many birds and small mammals.

This painting is from a new body of work where I am exploring aspects of different roses including the fragrant Rosa damascena and Rosa Chandos Beauty. The rose for me appears to hover between the earth and air elements and has a fascinating medicinal, personal, social and historical symbolic potency.

I use rose seed oil as the base oil in a moisturiser, which I then mix with essential oils.  The seed oil is very rich in vitamin E plus many other vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, which together make a lovely nourishing oil.

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My creative process is often a multi-layered response including cultural, environmental, medicinal, symbolic and spiritual considerations. Some subjects have over time developed a personal symbolism, boundaries and edges or how things meet being one such example. Both formally and as a narrative, this has informed my painting.

I began by spending time on meticulous observations, using various Plant Observation techniques. I then made lots of graphite pencil drawings and gradually the composition started to evolve.  I used a new paper, a Hot Pressed watercolour paper called ‘Moulin du Roy’, which had its challenges but does have a lovely smooth surface.

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In this piece I have focused on Rosa rubiginosa’s interesting branch structure. Inspired by its wayward growth habit I have depicted the branches as both hanging down and reaching skyward as they stretch up above the hedgerow.

Relishing the rich, vibrant colours and forms of the autumn hips, I hope I have also conveyed the way they seem to quietly communicate with each other.

 

www.juliagroves.co.uk

Facebook   Julia Groves Artist

info@juliagroves.co.uk

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