Award-winning botanical artist Jenny Hyde-Johnson is the designer behind the gorgeous artwork on the Flowstone Gin labels.
The artist unpacks her collaboration with Flowstone Gin founders, Mark and Glyn French, her inspiration during the creative process and her passion for all things botanical.
When Flowstone Gin’s founders – mother-and-son duo Mark and Glyn French – were developing their acclaimed and award-winning gins, as luck would have it, their neighbour Jenny Hyde-Johnson would provide the most valuable insight.
When summing up this collaboration, Mark is clearly grateful for Jenny’s contribution, “In addition to being our neighbour and close family friend, Jenny is a world-renowned botanical artist. Not only did she do our label artwork, but she was also the botanical expert that helped us identify the flavours that would eventually become Flowstones’ gins.”
Jenny grew up on the outskirts of Johannesburg where an abundance of wildlife and indigenous flora nurtured her love for nature. After a successful career in graphic design, which included 25 years in which she co-owned and ran her own successful design studio, Jenny moved to a farm in the Magaliesberg area where she devoted herself to painting fulltime. When describing her body of work, she says most of her art is super realism, “and this is mainly dictated by botanical art which stems from a scientific and medicinal background. Books were illustrated through the ages depicting the uses of various parts of a plant and one had to be able to identify the plant from the paintings”.
Her body of work has been exhibited locally and abroad and is on display at The Royal Botanical, Kew Gardens in the United Kingdom. Jenny was also published in Modern Botanical Masterpieces and named ‘best in show’ at the 2016 Planet Exhibition in Kirstenbosch, Cape Town.
Jenny’s artwork works wonderfully on Flowstone’s bottle labels. It effectively tells the stories around the use of the botanicals featured in the gins. For the process of creating the label artwork for the bottle label.
I combined the relevant blooms, berries, and fruits pertinent to each flavour in the centre of the label, and then filled the lesser areas of the painting with the typical ingredients unique to all gins. These ingredients include angelica, citrus (lemon, orange) cardamom pods, star anise etc. – she says.
The collaboration extended beyond artwork though, alongside Glyn, Jenny’s expertise in botanics lead to them identifying the key flavours that have become synonymous with the Flowstone brand. Jenny says:
It was work in progress for quite some time as various flowers, blossoms, berries, fruits and drupes were auditioned as they came into season.” When it came to identifying each botanical flavour she adds, “At times it was the overriding flavour such as the fruit of the Combretum – Bushwillow fruit. However, most of the credit goes to Glyn, who pioneered the original recipes. I merely suggested suitable wild botanicals from the Highveld.
Which Flowstone gin is her favourite?
The Flowstone Bushwillow is my absolute favourite followed by Snuffbox with a cinchona mixer. Flowstone gins have such unique flavours I do not like to add too much. Toasted cashews and a slice of horned cucumber when in season are superb and pomegranates add lovely colour.
Having won numerous awards for her work, the achievement that stands out for Jenny is, “the first gold medal I received at the Kirstenbosch Biennale in 2006. It was the biggest surprise. However, the international awards must shine through as one is competing on a much larger stage against a vast number of artists”.
Jenny is incredibly proud of the work she’s achieved with Flowstone, “I have watched the brand grow from strength to strength and I feel hugely proud as they break onto the international stage. A bit like watching your child spread their wings.”
The Flowstone range of gin is available online at https://flowstone.co.za/ as well as Makro and Takealot. To connect with Flowstone, visit Facebook at @FlowstoneGin and Instagram @flowstonegin.