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botanical artist

City, Garden Stories

Garden Stories: Waiwai Hove, Botanical Illustrator Extraordinaire


I recently got to know of Waiwai Hove, a highly talented botanical illustrator to say the very least. We exchanged emails over a duration of two months before we got to meet, and the newly minted UNESCO World Heritage Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) provided the perfect backdrop to catch up. Waiwai works from there on certain days, as she has been commissioned to paint 30 of their heritage trees, which you will read more about in the interview. Waiwai is also the illustrator of SBG’s 2015 calendar,  which sold out – a first time occurrence, her colleague told me.

I had a delightful time with her, we strolled through part of the gardens as we conversed on various topics,  such as her work with SBG, intricacies of botanical illustration, her twin boys, and plants – naturally! We encountered a few animals, which she was quick to spot, and I had trouble detecting even when she had pointed at them. She has such a keen eye for details, but I suppose you would say that it’s expected given her profession!

We also dropped by the “Orchids of Singapore Botanic Gardens and Their Heritage” exhibition, where I got to view Aranda Lee Kwan Yew, before sitting down for a drink and a good chat. Waiwai showed me her portfolio, which I found absolutely incredible. Her work is outstanding – while it is beautiful, it is also scientifically accurate, and it’s no wonder that she obtained the highest marks ever scored in the Society of Botanical Artists diploma course she completed. My time with this gentle woman passed quickly, and soon it was time to pick up her twins from school, but we agreed that we should catch up again soon, and hopefully view her home studio and plants.

I hope you enjoy this interview, it’s been a while!


Image courtesy of Waiwai Hove

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