Notwithstanding today's highly sophisticated digital era, the traditional and specific art of botanical illustration still matters and plays a meaningful role in our research of the vast plant world. The highly detailed and scientific accurate illustrations with additional cutaways and close-ups, form a visual and well documented descriptions of a plant species, critical for its differentiation and classification. It depicts the characteristics of a plant and every detail of any importance in a clear and unambiguous way, regardless of language or botanical knowledge and so making it widely accessible. Furthermore, an illustration offers the opportunity to present a timeless and ideal or ‘representative’ of a particular species without individual abnormalities, damages or signs of decay. An illustration often brings out hidden features beyond what’s in a photograph and is more complete in terms of detail and visible information.
The Botanic Garden has a long tradition when it comes to botanical illustrations, Hélène Durand was one of the pioneers and produced in a meticulous way countless illustrations of outstanding quality. Her work bears witness to the artistic craftsmanship, attention to detail and botanical knowledge that was, and still is, needed in this peculiar and rare line of work. Today, Omer Van de Kerckhove, Antonio Fernandez, Sven Bellanger, and Liliane Tytens continue that tradition and work very closely with our scientists in order to create new, world-class images in watercolor, ink, and pencil that appear in inventories, journals, flora’s and field guides of the Botanic Garden.