recorded on Wednesday 3 February 2021
Fine Art photographer Hugo Rittson Thomas joined us for an online talk with ecologist and botanist Professor Sir Ghillean Prance.
Previously known for his portraits, Hugo Rittson Thomas’ has recently celebrated a very different cultural icon, the wildflower meadow. In partnership with conservation charity Plantlife, Hugo was inspired by the achievements of the Coronation Meadows established by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2013. He explains: “The idea of the Coronation Meadows initiative was a simple one: to find the best surviving meadow in each county and use seed from that meadow to create a new one.”
In 2012, conservation charity Plantlife published ‘Our Vanishing Flora’, a report highlighting the loss of wild flowers from counties across Great Britain since the Coronation. In his foreword, Plantlife’s Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales lamented this loss and called for the creation of new wildflower meadows, at least one in every county, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Coronation.
Meadows are one of the UK’s most species-rich habitats, supporting nearly 800 types of flowers and plants, along with 400 species of pollinators and other insects. Today, surviving fragments of flower-rich meadows and pastures only account for 1% of UK land as we have lost an alarming 7.5 million acres since the 1930s.
Photographed over a year, the locations included Chatsworth, Blenheim Palace, Highclere Castle and Sandringham.
Hugo was joined by Professor Sir Ghillean Prance who was a director of the New York botanic Gardens and then director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and has the patrons gold medal from the Royal Geographic Society. Much of his career at the New York Botanical Garden was spent conducting extensive fieldwork in the Amazon region of Brazil. Sir Ghillean Prance is currently involved with the Eden Project.