腎蕨 / Tuberous Sword Fern
Drawing a plant isn't hard, even for someone like me who's not known for being precise when it comes to drawing. I might not get the hang of it right away, but practice makes perfect. However, Guei-mei gives me a tremendous challenge this time. She comes in with the Tuberous Sword Fern from the garden. After explaining to me every part, she leads me to a huge poster on which the whole development process is illustrated. Then she announces to me: I hope you can draw the same thing for the Tuberous Sword Fern. Because many images can be seen only with the help of the microscope, we struggle hard with the apparatus. Yet we can only see as much as spores.
Meanwhile another colleague can't help joining our conversation. She asks: Why do you need drawings? Isn't it easier to take photos? I can't agree more since I look for images of plants online on a daily basis. Guei-mei responds: I love drawings. People used to do that too. "That's because cameras were not available!" Much as I love illustration, I can't come up with a decent reason either. Still, the task has been given, and I'll take it.
When I draw to such a point that I feel like evaporating, the designer for the new exhibition room walks out, asking me if the herbarium hired me to draw. Then he hits upon a brilliant idea of letting me draw the poster for the promotion. Before he leaves, he gives me the answer I was looking for: It feels idiosyncratic. It is then I realize why we need illustration. Photography can be used in scientific research, but illustration can be applied to design. Besides, for some people, illustration serves as a means to lead them into the world of plants, which I believe, is a rather wonderful beginning point.
In TAI Herbarium, there are surprises in store for me every day.