Plant artist Rodella was number one in her field

Artist Rodella 'Della' Purves has died, aged 62

ALTHOUGH her work was very much channelled to the world of flower and fauna, proof of Rodella Purves' credentials as an artist is in how she was revered in the wider art world.

Known to many as simply Della, the botanical artist amazed people by bringing to life what many consider to be one of the trickiest art forms.

The Edinburgh born mother-of-two, who died last month at the age of 62, developed her love for botany after leaving St Margaret's School in the Capital and moving on to the East of Scotland College, where she took a diploma in agriculture. She then went on to Cambridge to train as a seed tester.

But it was a pivotal day in 1969 when Della arrived at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh to work as an exhibition designer that set the trend for a relationship that lasted throughout the rest of her life.

In order to capture the intricacies and beauty of various complex flowers, plants and buds she would work long into the night, forging a reputation as a perfectionist. She relished challenges, and would often spend days amending the slightest features on her paintings.

This perfectionism led some people to say that when they saw her paintings they could virtually reach out and pick the fruit or petals from the canvas.

She also developed specialities within the plant world, and won worldwide recognition for her portrayals of the Himalayan blue poppy. And in 1998 Della was awarded the Jill Smythie medal for excellence. Although she exhibited in countries across the world, including Japan and the USA, she also received much adulation within the city. The City Art Centre alone featured over 50 of her works over the years.

Fittingly, for Rooted, Della's last-ever exhibition, drawing a close to a fantastic 40-year career, she returned to the home of her mother – the Republic of Ireland.

In addition, her painting of the Pinus coulteri was gifted to the Irish nation as a thank you for hosting the event.

And Della's work didn't restrict her to the artist's studio. She dipped her toe in the water of radio and television and wrote many newspaper articles.

Her infectious personality helped her reach out to thousands of listeners, viewers and readers as she talked extensively and enthusiastically about her field.

Away from the canvas she also spent time working with an Edinburgh University research programme which involved a colony of monkeys.

Despite Della's forthright views and honesty, these qualities were overtaken by a sense of modesty and good humour.

She is survived by her husband Rab, daughter Maryanne and son Campbell.