August 24, 2013 - October 14, 2013 Organized by the Wildling Museum in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (SBBG), the exhibition featured a series of watercolors of California native plants commissioned by SBBG, as well as two delicate porcelain sculptures.
O'Hara is an Irish artist known for his detailed ceramic botanical sculptures and watercolor paintings.
The artist was commissioned by the Botanic Garden to produce a series of watercolors showcasing a wide variety of California's diverse native plants. Traditional botanical art focuses on the details of a single plant, whereas O'Hara artfully composed microcosms of native life.
Writes O'Hara: "Coming many times from Ireland to study your flora over the past fifteen years, I am truly envious of the huge variety of plant species and the bees and butterflies and moths that pollinate them. It has been a privilege and an adventure to see the way in which Californians have protected and conserved so many different ecosystems - not just in your National Parks, but in your farms and gardens and recreation areas.
In the thirty paintings, of which the Botanic Garden has had superb giclee prints made, I tried to capture the atmosphere of those micro-habitat niches from down on the coast to high up in the Sierras, and from the cool forests of northern California down to the arid heat of the deserts on the Mexican border. The wildflowers that I portrayed growing together are not necessarily typical or average specimens, but were just as I saw them at that moment in time and in that particular situation. Each composition was designed to be truthful to nature, but hopefully its movement and color and patterns would also appeal to the art lover as much as the naturalist.
The Wildling Museum and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden play a vital part in promoting wildlife conservation across California, and I am proud to be associated with their endeavours.”