How art can help save wild habitats and their plants

By creating photographs of pressed wildflowers from around the globe, artist Jane Anashka creates prints and cards that she hopes will help to protect wild plants and their habitats. 

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How art can help save wild habitats and their plants

 

You might easily miss Jane Anashka's studio. Tucked away at the end of a leafy lane, barely visible on a London A-Z, it occupies most of the ground floor of the small Victorian cottage she shares with her partner John Cowie. Here on a lightbox, Jane has set out a selection of pressed wildflowers, the types you might also pass by without noticing. But look at them through a magnifying glass and a beautiful filigree of veins becomes visible. "When you hold the pressed flower against the light and see the perfectly formed detail, you realise how wonderful nature is," says Jane.

 

 

 

The team 

Jane and her partner John work together: Jane presses the specimens and arranges the design for John to photograph over a lightbox, using a specially designed camera. They use the images on their range of handmade greeting cards, archival prints and a limited number of silk scarves. They started Save Me I'm Wild to motivate concern for the loss of wild plant habitats through selling their pressed flower designs as greeting cards and making quarterly donations to Fauna & Flora International.

 

The creative process

More than 50 of their designs now sell as handmade cards and prints, with Jane constantly looking for new and unusual specimens to press. However, creating a new design is time-consuming. 'The whole process can take anything from one to six months, from finding a suitable specimen to a finished design," says Jane. "It depends how thick or fleshy the plants are." For each image, Jane carefully arranges the plant on paper, slicing open the fleshier parts, such as rosehips, with a scalpel. The flowers are pressed between sheets of blotting paper in a large beechwood press and left to dry and become translucent, but not too long as they can oxidise and turn brown.

Not all the flowers are wild. One of their recent triumphs  was a pressing of a neighbour's parrot tulip, and the latest image of a pink Rosa 'Thérèse Bugnet' captures the delicate petals and stamens so vividly you can almost smell its scent.

 

But it is their concern for the loss of wild plant habitats that is closest to their hearts. "I love all wild plants," says Jane. "The simplest are often the most beautiful." In fact, one that Jane feels is especially lovely when pressed is Convolvulus arvensis, better known as bindweed. "Even rogues can be attractive," says John.

 

USEFUL INFORMATION

 

An exhibition of Save Me I'm Wild images will be on display at the RHS London Shades of Autumn Show from 28-29 October 2016, where they will be selling their handmade greetings cards.

 

Visit savemeimwild.com for more details.  

 

Words Juliet Giles

Photography Andrew Montgomery

Taken from a longer feature in the July 2016 issue (236) of Gardens Illustrated.                                                                         

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