24th March - 23rd April, 2009
The Rose Annual, 1924
'A few years ago I got interested in roses, and in my house in France started a rose garden dedicated to traditional 'classic' roses. Then I found the National Rose Society Annual for 1924 in a second-hand bookshop. In the Annual are a series of hand-coloured photographs of newly cultivated roses. As was the custom these were named after ladies.
'My subsequent research revealed that most of these roses were no longer 'in commerce', so the only record of their colour was the poorly tinted photograph and the brief verbal description. I set about painting seven small works in these colours, and painted the name of the rose over the top, so that they are like epitaphs to the departed roses, as well as to the ladies. I also made one larger painting which commemorates a yellow rose named after the son of an illustrious breeder of the period who had been killed in the First World War, Souvenir de Claudius Pernet. Alas, this rose is also now defunct. The largest Rose Painting is brilliant white in colour and uses the text from an advertisement in the Annual: British Roses (Guaranteed). Finally, I painted a series of 'Paragraph Paintings' on pages cut from the Annual. Here rectangles of text are replaced by rectangles of colour, like beds of roses.'
Simon Morley, 2008