Q&A with Anne McKenzie
Discipline: Paper – Botanic Calligraphy
Anne McKenzie earned her Postgraduate Diploma in Art Therapy at Goldsmith’s, University of London and her Bachelor of Fine Art at Rhodes University. Her years of living in the global culture of London have allowed her to study a variety of meditative traditions, which inform her practice. In 2023, Anne has exhibited in London Craft Week and Craft Festival Bovey Tracey. Anne is a member of Design Nation and Find a Maker.
Please describe your creative process/practice?
I am a London-based painter, creating botanical banners using pigments bound with honey and gum arabic on handmade Japanese paper. My work is a calligraphic exploration of plants, trees and flowers.
What are your influences and motivations?
My work combines the observational skills of botanical art with the emotional responsiveness of calligraphy. I am inspired by visual meditative traditions where every brush stroke matters, as this focus leads to unselfconscious expression. My intention is to convey the beauty, delight, mystery and wonder of the world’s precious plants, rendering their image in a sacred format that references Shodo. With 40% of the world’s plants at risk of extinction, it is timely to paint these visual prayers.
What makes your work unique? Anything from materials, tools – are you a Heritage craft maker?
I intuitively mix pigments, binding them with gum arabic and honey, and apply the colours to large format handmade Japanese paper. These materials are a direct extension of the natural world: the paper holds light in a very subtle way and the particles of pigment have a luminous quality which compliments the paper. My handmade Japanese brushes are both characterful and gentle, allowing for specific expression without disrupting the delicate fibres of the paper.