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The Duchess of Cornwall visits the Rory McEwen art exhibition

14th May 2013

The Duchess at the Rory McEwen exhibition at Kew Gardens

The Duchess at the Rory McEwen exhibition at Kew Gardens

The Duchess of Cornwall showed her appreciation for art today as she visited an exhibition of paintings by the late Scottish artist Rory McEwen.

Her Royal Highness was given a tour of the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, by McEwen's daughters Christabel Holland and Samantha McEwen.

She commented on the artist's range of skills, saying: "He was so multi-talented, wasn't he?"

The artworks included watercolour botanical studies of tulips, onions and roses, as well as sculptures and videos.

Samantha McEwen, who is also an artist, said: "I think she really liked the pictures actually. I think she thought the tulips were particularly beautiful.

"And the onion was quite funny because my father didn't cook at all so we decided the only thing he could do with an onion was paint it."

One of the artworks on display was a wild cyclamen painting that McEwen gave to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in the early 1950s.

Two other works, paintings of roses, were owned by Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, who was McEwen's childhood friend.

Christabel Holland said: "I think she seemed to enjoy it very much, she's so lovely and so appreciative of art.

"She really liked the tulips, I think she was very keen on them and she seemed to really love everything actually.

"I think she's a keen gardener so I think she liked seeing the real tulips."

The Duchess views one of the paintings on display

The Duchess views one of the paintings on display

After The Duchess toured the artwork she spoke to friends of the McEwen family and those who helped organise the exhibition at a small reception.

Lord David Ogilvy said: "We talked about Scotland, we were chatting away. We were talking about how nice the show looks and how I wish I'd bought more in the '70s."

Lord Ogilvy, a musician, is a friend of the McEwens and said he learnt about music from Rory McEwen, who was a talented guitar player.

"I learnt a lot from him, just by osmosis", said Lord Ogilvy.

The exhibition, Rory McEwen The Colours of Reality, is the first collection of McEwen paintings since the artist's posthumous exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in 1988.

Richard Deverell, director at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, said in a speech: "I can think of no better example of how we can inspire people with the wonder of the natural world than these paintings by Rory McEwen."

Laura Giuffrida, galleries and exhibitions leader, said the work preparing the exhibition began three years ago. "It's just been an ambition for a long time", she said.