Tucked away in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Mat Collishaw’s new exhibition Petrichor speaks to our relationship with nature – and the varying degrees to which we both embrace and erode it. The word petrichor itself is a word to describe the smell of rain after a long period of drought, and from the outset, each room of this collection of works by Collishaw, both new and old, are borne from evocative moments and imagery from the world around us.

The Centrifugal Soul by Mat Collishaw c RBG Kew

The exhibition includes poignant journeys through the natural world in
Even To The End a nine-minute film through nature set to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, as well as large scale intriguing, illusory installations combining naturally occurring miracles of the natural world with Victorian illusion techniques in The Centrifugal Soul and Albion.

At the culmination of the exhibition too, there is a final adjacent gallery of the winning entries from the Young Botanical Artists Competition with finalists selected by botanical artists including the gallery’s namesake, Dr Shirley Sherwood OBE. Open to artists from age 16-25, this inaugural competition invited them to produce what is an extraordinary array of illustrations and paintings centred around trees. Inspirational for adults and young people alike. 

Albion by Mat Collishaw c. RBG Kew

Kew’s vast gardens, multiple glasshouses and countless rare and unique plant species alongside beautifully-designed ornamental planting can inspire even the most reluctant of gardeners to reexamine their outdoor space. With entry to
Petrichor included in the ticket prices to the gardens there’s therefore one more reason to travel to Kew for inspiration right now and, in this case, it offers a slow and moving experience that brings us closer to nature to examine what it really means to celebrate and cherish it.

Petrichor runs from now until Sunday 7 April 2024 at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens. Entry is included in ticket prices, £1 Universal Credit and £9 young person’s tickets are available. More information here.

For fans of art inspired by the natural world crossing paths with classical music, Mat Collishaw’s work will also appear at the Barbican on 20 November in Sky Burial with the Insula Orchestra. Available here.

Even to the End by Mat Collishaw c. RBG Kew