Biography

I was born and raised in South Africa. Surrounded by an abundance of indigenous and cultivated plant life, it’s only to be expected that botanical subjects would find their way into my work soon after I started painting as a young child under the tutorage of Betty Clur.

After graduating as a teacher in Cape Town, I taught art at Rustenburg School for Girls In Rondebosch, just a stone’s throw from the world-famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

In the early 80’s after time spent in Toronto, London, Tehran, and Houston, I, my husband, and my daughter settled in Calgary at the foot of the Canadian Rockies. I completed fine arts courses at the University of Calgary and served as a director of the Alberta Crafts Council for four years. I now live in Chester Basin, Nova Scotia.

I discovered the work of contemporary botanical artists while on one of many trips to visit my mother in England during the late 90’s. I had finally found my artistic focus. Fueled by a new-found enthusiasm for botanical art, I completed master watercolour classes with renowned botanical artists and teachers, Anne Marie Evans, Pandora Sellars, and Katie Lee.

I’m a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA), the Bermuda Society of Artists (BSoA), the Botanical Artists’ Guild of Southern Alberta (BAGSA), the Botanical Artists’ Association of Southern Africa (BAASA), Société Française d’Illustration Botanique (Sfib), Botanical Art Guild of Southern California (BAGSC), and the Florilegium Society of the Royal Botanical Gardens of Sydney. 

I have exhibited in Canada, the U.S.A, the U.K., Bermuda, Australia, South Africa, and Italy. My work can be found in private collections around the world, in the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation of the Carnegie Mellon University, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

My botanical art teaching in graphite, coloured pencil and watercolour has taken me to numerous renowned locations including the San Diego Natural History Museum, Filoli Gardens near San Francisco, University of Washington in Seattle, Los Angeles Arboretum, Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens, Huntington Gardens in San Moreno, Virginia Robinson Gardens in Hollywood, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, and the South African National Biodiversity Institute at the National Botanical Gardens, Pretoria.

I have also taught in France and at destination workshops in Italy, England, Morocco, Spain, and Newfoundland. In Calgary and Hamilton, Bermuda I have developed progressive botanical art programs.

You can see more about my teaching at my botanical art education website: www.botanicalart.education.

You can follow me on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/MargaretBestBotanical/