Rory McEwen : The Colours of Reality [Hardback edition]
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- Editor: Martyn Rix
- 224pp. 280 x 242mm. 200+ colour botanical paaintings and b&w illustrations. Hardback (also available in paperback)
- Kew Publishing, 2013
This book showcases the life and work of Rory McEwen (1932-82), a legend in his lifetime and still admired thirty years after his death. He composed and performed Scottish folk songs and exhibited avant-garde sculpture at the Edinburgh Festival. His main legacy, however, is the wonderfully luminous and detailed flower paintings he produced throughout his life, of anemones, auriculas, tulips, fritillaries, and of often battered, dying leaves or mouldering vegetables.
McEwen developed a distinctive style working on unadorned vellum, presenting botanical subject matter with scientific precision and artistic flair, without ever compromising one for the other. His work can be found in the British Museum, V&A, Tate, National Gallery of Modern Art Scotland and MOMA, New York, among other collections. These paintings have been an inspiration to later generations of botanical artists.
In this book James Fox describes McEwen’s life and music and the wide-ranging friendships that he and his wife Romana shared at their house in Chelsea, including fellow artists such as Jim Dine, Brice Marden and Joseph Beuys, and musicians including Ravi Shankar, George Harrison and George Melly. Richard Demarco remembers his contributions to the avant-garde in Scotland, and Martyn Rix describes his botanical and other paintings. Shirley Sherwood considers his legacy and influence on today’s botanical artists, as illustrated by works from her collection.
Published to coincide with an exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 2013, and developed in close collaboration with the McEwen family, this was the first major exposure of Rory McEwen’s work since 1989.