The Jill Smythies Award

A medal and £1,000 to a botanical artist for outstanding, diagnostically relevant, published illustrations

Established in 1986 by the late Mr B E Smythies FLS, in honour of his wife, the late Florence Mary Smythies ("Jill"), whose career as a botanical artist was cut short by an accident to her right hand. Awarded to a botanical artist in recognition of excellence in published illustrations in aid of plant identification, with the emphasis on botanical accuracy and the accurate portrayal of diagnostic characteristics.

Nominations are now open. Please send your completed form to by 30 September 2023.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Open to any botanical artist of any nationality or age
  • For their outstanding botanical art that is 'an accurate portrayal of diagnostic characteristics and an aid to identification'
  • [At least some] drawings and/or paintings must be published
  • Digital work is eligible
  • Subject matter may include algae, fungi or plants but illustrations of cultivars of garden origin are not eligible
  • Work should include two or more items of the same taxonomic group for comparison
  • Flower paintings that are merely artistic, and which do not portray diagnostic features will not be assessed
  • Nominee cannot, at the time of nomination, be a member of Council
  • Nominee does not need to be a Fellow of the Society
  • We do not accept self-nominations
Sue Wickison
Photo credit: Sam Lynch

Sue Wickison, Jill Smythies Award 2023

Sue Wickison is an extremely accomplished botanical artist with field experience in many areas, namely the Solomon Islands, where she collected and recorded orchids. She has also worked on endangered species, depicting their life cycles, and has most recently illustrated Kew’s The Plants of the Qur’an: History and Culture by Dr Shahina Ghazanfar, with an accompanying exhibition running until Sunday 17 September at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art.

Andrew Brown
Photo Credit: Gillian Barlow

Andrew Brown, Jill Smythies Award 2022

Andrew Brown developed his skill in botanical illustration through his doctoral work on palynological vegetation history and during a career as an educator in the independent school sector. After retirement, he devoted himself to illustration fulltime. His detailed paintings of Alaskan wildflowers based on drawings done from life, have been exhibited at the Society and elsewhere. Other paintings have been selected for inclusion in limited edition botanical works, such as the Highgrove Florilegium. The black and white illustrations accompanying new species descriptions and floristic treatments demonstrate his skill in depicting detail, as well as the overall aspect of a plant, ensuring they are both faithful to the specimen from which they are drawn and aid in identification. He also contributes to the promotion of excellence in botanical illustration through his participation in societies and in botanical illustration workshops.

Alice Tangerini - Jill Smythies Award 2020

Alice Tangerini, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Jill Smythies Award 2020

For the excellence of her depictions of plants for scientific use, including the detailed portrayal of their diagnostic characteristics, Alice Tangerini is our 2020 winner of the Jill Smythies Award. In addition to illustrating new species, Alice has illustrated multiple taxa from the same group for the same publication, such that the details of the drawings can be used to distinguish the species.

Since 1972, Alice has made diagnostic illustrations for over 1,000 plant species in pen and ink, graphite, and more recently in digital media, for a variety of publications. Using mainly herbarium specimens as her resource material, she has prepared these illustrations to portray the species in a realistic manner with necessary reconstruction to remove the artefacts of drying and physical damage. Significant taxonomic characters have been enlarged with the aid of a microscope to facilitate their use in species descriptions.

Over the years, the detail and accuracy of her drawings and examinations of the specimens have resulted in authors changing descriptions, based on details observed by Alice that had escaped the botanists’ notice. For instance, her detailed examination of a proposed new species of bromeliad resulted in the production of a newly written, enhanced description. As a result, the authors, Lyman B. Smith and Harold Robinson, decided to name the new species Navia aliciae in her honour. Such collaboration with scientists in describing a taxon is the hallmark of exemplary botanical illustration.

Deborah Lambkin, Medal winner 2019
Deborah Lambkin, Medal winner 2019