Although she arrived in Nepal about a year ago, British Ambassador Nicola Pollitt rarely had a chance to interact with a diverse set of people in one place. Last week, however, she found an occasion to interact with audiences at a solo art exhibition. The exhibition at Siddhartha Art Gallery featured paintings of flora by artist Neera Joshi Pradhan.
Ambassador Pollitt attended the painting exhibition as the chief guest. Catalogued by Pratima Pande on behalf of Nepal Britain Society, The Beauty of Nepal’s Flora was devoted to botanical paintings of Neera Joshi Pradhan.
Since Pande took up the presidency of Nepal Britain Society, she has been immensely contributing to strengthening the over two century’s old diplomatic relations between Nepal and Britain despite COVID-19 Pandemic, which forced such programs to be less frequent. Following all the health protocol, Pande took the initiative to get the exhibition opened from British ambassador Pollitt.
Under the leadership of Pande, Nepal Britain Society had contributed to commemorate the 200 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and Britain. President Pande was part of the successful visit of Prince Harry in 2016 when Nepal was facing a deep crisis.
An ardent lover of heritage and art, Pande and her husband Prithvi Bahadur Pande, chairman of Nepal Investment Bank Ltd, have been supporting heritage conservation in Kathmandu Valley. During the visit of Prince Harry, Pande was invited to Patan Durbar Square to present the restoration work to Prince Harry.
“I would like to share that my sister Pratima Pande and her family are collectors of Nepali art. They have also been supporters of the work that the Gallery has been doing over the years and have been patrons of the Kathmandu Triennale since 2009,” said Sangeeta Thapa, director Siddhartha Art Gallery and Siddhartha Art Foundation.
“You may be wondering why I am speaking first. It is only because I am eager to introduce Her Excellency Nicola who has been here for already a year in Kathmandu and due to COVID, our Nepal Britain Society has not been able to welcome her in a grand manner and conduct any program,” said Pande, elder daughter of prominent civil society leader and first governor of Nepal Rastra Bank Himalaya Sumsher Rana.
Over 50 collections of botanical paintings were exhibited at the exhibition. Inaugurating the exhibition, British Ambassador Pollitt said that people to people relations between the United Kingdom and Nepal are deeply rooted.
In the presence of over 70 people, the ambassador also keenly took glances of the paintings exhibited at the gallery.
“It is my great pleasure to inaugurate The Beauty of Nepal Flora by the very talented and the only botanical illustrator of Nepal Neera Joshi Pradhan with Ambassador Nicola Pollitt at the Siddhartha Art Gallery,” said Pratima Pande, president of Nepal Britain Society.
“Artist Neera Joshi is the daughter of the celebrated artist late Ramananda Joshi. Though Neera did not receive formal academic training in the arts, her eventual journey to become an artist is an interesting one. Her art and botanical paintings which merge science and art is a visual tool to educate, conserve and research the diversity and beauty of floras,” said Thapa, director of Siddharth Art Gallery.
In 1995, Neera graduated with a master in Plant Science from Tribhuvan University. It is while she was making the required anatomical drawings of plants that Neera found that she was stunned by the beauty of the flora she was documenting. The change of career from plant scientist to artist is a testament of Neera’s love for nature.
“Her art and botanical paintings which merge science and art is a visual tool to educate, conserve and research the diversity and beauty of floras,” said Thapa.
“I would like to mention that the Siddhartha Art Gallery, the Siddhartha Arts Foundation, the Kathmandu Contemporary Art Center and the Kathmandu Triennale have received the generous patronage of both the British Embassy and the British Council and I look forward to continuing our enduring cultural relationship,” said Thapa.
“Today’s collection is just a tip of the iceberg. Nepal is a paradise and popular for its natural resources, bio-diversity and green vegetation. We have more than 6000 flowering plants in Nepal,” said artist Joshi Pradhan.
“I had a great experience to work with scientists and professionals at the Gardens in United Kingdom and Nepal too. I have put the native flowers Yellow Orchid, Sungava Dendrobium Densiflorum and Bergania Ciliata called at PashanVed in Nepali language, in this exhibition,” said Joshi.
Supporting the exhibition and encouraging and promoting painter like Joshi, Pande has been contributing to preserve Nepalese paintings. For Nepal-Britain relations, the plants and paintings have historic connections. The first British Resident to Nepal Brian Hudgson collected Nepal’s indigenous plants and flower. It was his collection of Nepal’s plants that got its fame.
Thanks to president Pande, new ambassador Nicola Pollitt also connected with larger Nepalese audiences while opening the exhibition of paintings of plants.