I went to see this exhibition, which examines the role gardens played in the evolution of art from the early 1860s through to the 1920s. I thought it was fabulous and although I didn't love every single painting in there, you wouldn't expect to, and there is absolutely no doubt that this is an exhibition for garden lovers.
I found myself getting a bit emotional because there were so many paintings here which influenced and inspired me early on, way before floristry and growing flowers were on the radar.
I saw the Monet in the 90s: the series paintings exhibition at the royal academy in 1990 when I was 20. I know that many people love Monet and the Impressionists and certainly it was very accessible for a clueless 20 year old scientist but it made the strongest impression on me and subsequent visits to the Metropolitan museum of art in New York reinforced that feeling of joy at seeing the colour and sheer abundance in the paintings.
I started gardening tentatively when I was about 25 and seriously when we moved into our cottage in 1999, leading to me growing some of our wedding flowers in 2002 when it all really kicked off! In that time I discovered William Robinson, Gertrude Jekyll, Christopher Lloyd and Great Dixter, Hidcote, Monty Don's Jewel garden and Sarah Raven. These inspirations together with the abundance and colour of the art of Monet, Cezanne, Van Gough, came together to inspire me to give up an academic career in science and pursue a more artistic career and so I set up Catkin in 2006.
10 years on, running a full on business, it is easy to forget what made me do it in the first place and it was so nice to be reminded by seeing all of these paintings together. The connections with William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll are there too with paintings by Alfred Parsons (who did the illustrations for William Robinson's 'The Wild Garden') and a painting of Gertrude Jekyll's boots!
What was clear from this exhibition was the sheer joy that the artists got from their gardens and how the colour and form of flowers inspired them to achieve great things and was a fabulous reminder of what my business is all about.