Four years have elapsed since Angelique de Folin’s last exhibition. Since that time, she has completed 15 new works of art, delicate watercolours of plants and fruits brushed with extraordinary refinement onto slim slices of vellum (calf-skin parchment) in a technique with a rich artistic history but which, in our modern times, has become more or less obsolete. One vellum factory remains in business in the United Kingdom and its survival depends upon Parliament’s willingness to maintain the long and expensive tradition of printing copies of its legislation on these small and precious sheets. As long as Parliament defers a decision to implement a cheaper solution and replace vellum with paper, Folin’s supply, and therefore her art, will be assured but it’s a precarious situation.
“Besides her work for this exhibition, one other factor has occupied her focus in recent seasons. Some of Folin’s work had previously been selected for the Highgrove Florilegium, a lavish editioned publication documenting the plant life of HRH The Prince of Wales’ celebrated Gloucestershire garden.
“More recently, Folin’s work has been selected for inclusion in the Transylvania Florilegium presently being created under the umbrella of the Prince of Wales's Foundation Romania to record in a permanent way the flora of Transylvania.
“However this princely venture may turn out to mark a conclusion, or at least an interregnum, in Folin’s long admired practice.”
To be sure, the new exhibition features exquisite portraits of a pear and a pineapple and a quince and a particularly delightful nutmeg composition in which the fruit is depicted in three successive stages of its evolution. But there is a new feature which appears to mark a turning point in her art. A large leaf, no longer a recognisable specimen, slips into the corner of the vellum sheet and is truncated by its margins. It’s a bold compositional device and unexpected from one of the most precisely accurate flora artists of our times.
Even more unusual, and admirable, are two studies of bark peeling away from the stem of a sapling. No longer is the tree’s skin the subject of the work. Instead, it is the act of the skin shedding and revealing something about the specimen at its core as it does so. It’s too early to hail Folin as an early 21st Century follower of Egon Schiele but these are the most revelatory works of her career and speak of an artist who wants to say something about herself as much as the nature which has inspired her career.
Text by Roger Bevan
For more information on the artist visit her website: here