Durban artist wins gold, exhibits abroad

Daleen Roodt with her award and botanic art work on exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

Daleen Roodt with her award and botanic art work on exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

Published Jun 23, 2024


Durban — Hillcrest artist Daleen Roodt achieved international recognition for her botanical artworks and large orchid painting at the RHS Botanical Art show in London.

Not only did Roodt receive an RHS gold medal, she was also last week awarded for best artwork.

The show, held at the Saatchi Gallery, is the most prestigious recognition of botanical art in the world. As the only South African artist, Roodt’s exhibition of indigenous orchids and pollinators exhibits among world-class artists from Korea, Japan, Singapore, Italy, Australia, USA, Sri Lanka and the UK.

The RHS Botanical Art and Photography Show 2024, which opened at the Saatchi Gallery in London last Friday and ends on July 7, features some of the best botanical artwork and garden photography from global artists.

The exhibition showcases exquisite botanical art and photography, featuring a rich variety of subjects from medicinal desert flowers to ornamental bananas, and from images of forest slime moulds to urban street plants.

Daleen Roodt in front of her large orchid painting at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

Roodt, 37, was awarded the Dawn Jolliffe Art Bursary by the RHS Bursaries Committee in support of her project. Over a period of three flowering seasons, she studied indigenous orchids and their pollinators in their natural environments across South Africa. Apart from many days and hours of fieldwork across three different provinces, the six watercolour paintings took almost 1 200 hours to complete. Her large painting of Eulophia horsfallii took 360 hours. She characterised the exhibition as “the Olympics of botanical art”.

“In order to be part of this exhibition, you have to submit a portfolio of work which is assessed by judges. Once accepted, you have five years to prepare your exhibition of six artworks. As long as it was botanical art, and it had to form part of a coherent theme. I chose indigenous orchids of South Africa with their pollinators.

“I have a passion for painting orchids and I am fascinated by the intricacies of the pollinate interactions, and my whole theme is about showing how the orchids grow in their natural environment and emphasising the importance of conserving these environments.

“I am so grateful for this exposure. I hope it will elevate the profile of botanical art in South Africa. Further to that, I’m hoping there will be a consequent increase in awareness of our incredible biodiversity, as well as increased awareness to conserve our precious environments and natural habitats that are increasingly under threat of habitat destruction due to factors like urbanisation, encroaching agricultural practices and alien plant invasions. All orchids are under such threat ,” said Roodt.

Daleen Roodt with her award and botanic art work on exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

She said it had been incredible and an honour to represent South Africa at such a prestigious international event.

Roodt is a self-taught botanical artist. Since starting with freelance scientific illustration in 2008, she has developed her botanical art career and now specialises in indigenous orchids of South Africa.

She has a passion for painting outdoors and portraying in situ scenes, bringing to paper her experience of the botanical pursuit and the harmony presented by nature’s complex interactions.

Roodt has exhibited at the Grootbos Florilegium at the Hannarie Wenhold Botanical Art Gallery in Gansbaai. Another international exhibition where she is currently exhibiting is The Fifth New York Botanical Garden Triennial, “Curious Allies: Mutualism in Fungi, Parasites, and Carnivores”.

Sunday Tribune