News - Clarence and Sir Thomas Hanbury conference report

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

hanbury bicknell 26jan2019 bannerThe conference at the Hanbury Gardens on 26 January 2019 was the last of the 40 events in eight countries marking the Clarence Bicknell 2018 Centenary, but by some measures one of the best. I had been keen for several years, since hosting the friends of the Hanbury Gardens in London in 2016 and hearing their presentations at the Italian Institute, to be able to have a Bicknell-Hanbury event at the famous Hanbury Gardens. At the initiative of Alessandro Bartoli, dynamic secretary of their association, we accepted a date of 26 January 2019... Carolyn Hanbury assisted him in selecting the classiest speakers and in disciplining them to submit papers in advance and sticking to ten minutes each (oh well, 20 minutes). Success.

Carolyn Hanbury started off by welcoming the 80 attendees and talked about what is know of Hanbury and Bicknell's contacts.

A rare and very valuable contribution by Professor Mauro Mariotti, head of the Distav and the University of Genova (therefore the de facto curator of a collection of some thirteen thousand Clarence Bicknell watercolours, rock engraving copies, field diaries and plant samples) attributes to Clarence Bicknell the moniker Field Scientist. Today’s experts appreciate the work of enlightened amateurs almost as much as salaried professionals; work done by the citizen scientists, just for the love of the subject, can be very useful. I think Clarence would have liked the idea of being a citizen scientist; with his network of like-minded collectors and researchers, his love of people and his work on the universal language Esperanto, he was certainly a citizen. He may have blanched at the idea of being called a scientist; he read mathematics at Cambridge and was grounded in the church so he continually stressed that he was there to record the facts in the field, archaeological and botanical, and to leave the professionals to interpret them. Mariotti described Bicknell ‘s network of other botanists, his contribution to academic botany, the works in his library, and the dozen plants named after him. Note that his University of Genoa is the administrator of the Hanbury Gardens; the director Luigi Minuti was not present on the day. It was a thrill to see Mariotti’s love for and knowledge of Bicknell pulled together in one paper and and I think will remain a valuable account for a long time.

Dssa. Daniela Gandolfi, head of the International Institute of Ligurian Studies and of the Museo Bicknell which it owns, was fully justified blowing the trumpet about their contribution to the 2018 Clarence Bicknell Centenary. Their efforts in putting together their exhibition, for which Daniela as director was supported over the preparation period of two years by a team of staff and volunteers such as (those I know and have mutually supported) Franca Porra, Elena Riscosso, Bruna Di Paoli, Dr Giovanni Russo, Claudio Roggero, Gisela Merello, and others. The exhibition, whose run has just been extended to the end of March 2019 and will then move on the Finale Ligure and maybe even Genoa. It includes classic material from the Museo, loan items from collections like the Bicknell Collection which I curate and new items (Lotto 2017) purchased by the IISL.

Claudio Littardi accompanied Daniela Gandolfi to talk about the garden of the Museo Bicknell and its rare plants.

The 18-minute film The Marvels of Clarence Bicknell was projected, after which proceedings were drawn to an end without there being time for questions. Pity. More important was wandering up the garden to Carolyn's house for lunch.

I have asked permission to reproduce here the papers from each of the speakers but have not received approval yet.

hanbury bicknell 26jan2019

 

 

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