Saving Orchids

Last Update: 17 December 2002


Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version of Sean's orchid sketch, which sold for £460.

Sean produced this drawing on approximately A4 (8 inches x 12 inches) size watercolour paper specially for the Dorset Wildlife Trust Auction.

Click here to visit the Dorset Wildlife Trust Auction and see some of the other great sketches which continue to be on sale until spring 2003.

'Outline an Orchid' Auction
With the help of David Bellamy,the President of the Wildlife Trusts, the Dorset Wildlife Trust has recently asked famous people if they could 'Outline an Orchid' (the logo of the Dorset Wildlife Trust').

The response has been wonderful and The Dorset Wildlife Trust now has over 220 drawings to auction between October 2002 and spring of 2003. This makes it the biggest auction of its type ever.

The range of contributors is remarkable, from musicians, artists, poets, actors, writers, TV personalities and sports stars. All in all they cover the very best of popular culture today. Thanks go to them all.

Thanks are also due to the sponsors of this auction whose provision of raw materials has kept the cost down considerably. So thank you to Abbey Life for sponsoring our postage and to Hobbycraft of Ferndown, Daler Rowney and Winsor & Newton for sponsoring all the watercolour paper we used.

To see the state of the current auction and instructions on how to make a bid, go to the DWT section in the eBay Charity Auction.

Les Bunce
Auction Organiser

Sketches for sale on eBay from 5-15 Dec 2002 were:

John Fortune
Sean Bean
Shirley Eaton
Buffy Davis
John Francome
Julian Lloyd-Webber
George Melly
Robson Green
Susan Hampshire
John Inverdale
Graham Norton
Joely Richardson

Sean's sketch of an orchid sold for £460 and 1065 people looked at the drawing in the 10 days it was for sale. The auction has raised £4000 for the Wildlife Trust, at about a quarter of the way through the 250 drawings they have to auction - and some of the best ones are still to come!

November 30, 2002

I'm a celebrity, buy my flower here
Source: The Times
November 30, 2002

The rich and famous are putting pen to paper to save Britain's endangered orchids, says Sanjida O'Connell

NO FLOWER reduces sane people to gibbering obsessives quite so effectively as an orchid. The sheer diversity of orchids; their rarity; petals “monstrous as metaphors”, as Oscar Wilde wrote; and the uncanny ability of some species to mimic insects — all this breeds intense passions.

The celebrated Victorian plant hunter F. W. Burbridge risked his life in Borneo searching for new and rare orchids. He was reduced to eating rats and drinking from pitcher plants to survive, and when he lost both his horse and his boat he rode to Sarawak’s capital, Kuching, on a buffalo.

Some of the 50 British orchid species, such as the common spotted and early purple, are widespread. But others, such as the lady’s slipper, are rare and can be found only in one or two places in the country.

Another endangered rarity is the early spider orchid. This tiny plant, a few centimetres high, grows on Dorset’s coastal grasslands and almost nowhere else. It is the logo of the Dorset Wildlife Trust, which has come up with a simple idea to raise cash to protect the county’s orchids: an internet auction of celebrity orchid paintings.

Joely Richardson, Sean Bean, Jane Horrocks, Alan Titchmarsh, Bill Oddie and Sir Paul McCartney are among those who have donated almost 250 drawings, sketches and paintings. Their works are sold over the internet in batches of a dozen paintings every ten days.

The current auction, which runs until December 6, includes paintings by Lorraine Kelly, Sara Cox, Jack Charlton, Cat Deeley, Richard E. Grant and Sally Gunnell.

Dorset’s passion for collecting celebrity orchid paintings began as a bit of fun, says Peter Scupholme, the trust’s chief executive. “We thought we would get 20 or so, but it took off and the response has been fantastic.”

Many artists are likely to have been inspired by Dr David Bellamy, president of the wildlife trust, who mailed his own orchid drawing to every celebrity involved. “I drew an imaginary one — Cypripemium bellamyensis or the botanist’s slipper,” says Bellamy, whose favourite specimen is the fen orchid, “because, like me, it likes wet places.”

The celebrities involved range from Ben Adams, singer in the pop band A1, who is the youngest at 20, through to the 90-year-old comedian Sir Norman Wisdom. The pictures are almost as varied as the plants.

Some celebrities, such as Gunnell, have submitted stunning watercolours, while others have opted for an oblique approach: the comedian Graeme Garden has drawn his in the style of Edvard Munch’s Scream.

Others have gone for humour: the artist Chris Rose drew a sergeant in place of the military orchid. The television gardener Charlie Dimmock has combined both in a poster — the central flower is beautifully painted and surrounded by cartoons — a lavatory for the bog orchid, for instance.

Deeley, a television host, has depicted an autumn lady’s tresses as a queen.

Fame, of course, is no guarantee of artistic ability. Bellamy’s botanist’s slipper was rather sketchy, and he cheerfully admits that he failed O-level art.

“I think it encouraged people,” says Scupholme. “You look at it and think, ‘I could do better than that’.” Sara Cox, Radio 1’s breakfast show presenter, says of her spider orchid: “Normally I’m good at drawing, but you wouldn’t think so to look at my picture.”

Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye, has written on his piece of paper: “I can’t draw,” and added a box with the word “orchid” inside. Since some of these paintings are lacking in artistry, is there a danger that they will fail to sell?

“In those cases, it’s often the name that attracts people,” Scupholme says. Cox believes that her painting will sell for “more than a plant pot and less than a grow bag”. This could be your chance to buy a Christmas present that really makes a difference.


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