Biscot Botanical illustration



Botanical Images Scotia (BISCOT) in conjunction with the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society (RCHS) and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) provides the opportunity for botanical artists and illustrators to exhibit at Gardening Scotland and consecutively at the RBGE.

Selection assessment – new exhibitors

Artists wishing to exhibit may apply to the Botanical Images Scotia (BISCOT) assessment panel to be assessed.  The panel consists of the current year’s exhibition judges.  They convene once a year in May, prior to Gardening Scotland to assess work.  The date for assessment is the third Friday in May each year.  Assessment results are sent out at the end of June.  Artists residing close to Edinburgh are required to send original work.  Artists who reside further afield, or outside Scotland, may submit a CD or memory stick of their work in ‘jpeg’ format which does not require to exceed 5 Mega Pixels in resolution.  Please ensure that you submit good quality images which will do justice to your work.

Four pieces of work (which do not need to be themed) require to be submitted for consideration. Work is assessed as botanical illustration.  The following points will be considered – botanical accuracy of plants depicted, level of painting skill demonstrated, composition of individual paintings and presentation.

Artists whose work is of the required standard is achieved artists will be able to apply for space at a future exhibition.

An application form may be found at the end of the Regulations.

Eligibility to exhibit

The BISCOT committee maintains a list of eligible artists who are invited each year to apply for space to exhibit.

Artists who have exhibited work at the RHS and gained gold and silver-gilt awards qualify for automatic eligibility as do graduates of the R.B.G.E. Botanical Illustration Course who gain a diploma with distinction.

If an artist has not exhibited within seven years following successful assessment, then work must be re-submitted for a new assessment.  If the reason for not exhibiting has been lack of space, then the period of eligibility will be extended and the artist will be given priority in the next exhibition.

Applying for space

Invitations are normally sent out to eligible artists by email in November/December

Eligible artists should ensure that the Artist Co-ordinator who maintains the list, holds their current contact details, which should include both email and home address.  The Artist Co-ordinator is currently Hazel Morris who can be contacted at:

Exhibitors must give at least 28 days notice, prior to the start of the exhibition, to the BISCOT committee if they are unable to show work.  Artists who fail to comply with this requirement may not be considered for space the following year.

A fee of £30 to cover administration costs is charged for entry, and should be sent with the entry form.  If the prospective exhibitor fails to gain a place in the exhibition, this will be refunded.  Exhibitors who live outside the UK may pay their administration fee on arrival.  Exhibitors who have gained entry, but withdraw within 28 days before the exhibition will forfeit their entry fee.


This takes place at the Gardening Scotland Show which is held at the Royal Highland Showground at Ingliston, beside Edinburgh Airport   In 2017 this will take place from Thursday 1st  June (hanging day) to Sunday 4th June.

The exhibition was then transferred immediately to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, John Hope Gateway Building, for a period of about three weeks. In 2017 the exhibition is expected to run from Wednesday 7th June to approximately Thursday 22nd June. These dates are to be confirmed.

All exhibiting artists must agree to allow works to be shown at both exhibitions. 


While copyright of all works of art belongs to and remains with the artist, by submitting work for exhibition, unless contacted by the artist in writing to say otherwise, the artist grants BISCOT permission to photograph and/or film the submitted works for press and marketing purposes only, including the right to free reproduction for any catalogue, poster, website or other non-commercial promotional material in connection with this and future BISCOT exhibitions.


Paintings and drawings

At least six pieces of original work must be displayed to be considered for an award, and should all be in the same medium/media.  Watercolour will be given preference.  Digitally enhanced, or mechanically produced works will not be accepted.

At least two of these works must not have been previously exhibited in a competitive exhibition.

All work must be at least life size unless this is impractical.   A scale must be included if the subject is not life size.

Particular credit is given to themed work which attracts a higher award.  The judges give consideration to the accuracy of botanical detail, colour and composition.

The composition and placement of the work shown, in the space provided, is important, as each display of artist’s work will be considered as a complete exhibit.  Less well executed works among the group exhibited, will affect the level of award given.

The overall sizes of the mounted work must not exceed 76 x 91.5cm. (30” wide by 36” high)  See actual board sizes under Exhibition boards and staging.

No work may be removed (or substituted by another) before the end of both exhibitions.

No material (books, stands or any other thing) apart from the pictures to be exhibited, shall be accepted.


An A5 size label bearing the artists name, address and email should be shown at two locations in the exhibit; at the top left hand and bottom right hand of the exhibitor’s space.

No advertising or promotional literature is allowed other than an A4 sheet containing artist’s details, awards etc. and information on the paintings exhibited, which may be displayed on the adjacent dividing panel at the start of the exhibit.

Each entry must bear an accurate label of the plant name which is considered an integral element of the work. The label must also be numbered and contain both the Latin and common names of the depicted plant in black on white card beside each work.  Scientific names are written in italics.  The first name starts with a capital letter and the second name always starts with a lower case letter eg, Pinus sylvestris. Cultivars are shown in single quotes and not in italics eg. Pinus strobus ‘Contorta’. Labels should be small, but must be easily read.

Each exhibit must be labelled on the back with the exhibitor’s name, plant names, and with an arrow indicating the top of the painting.  This is essential to facilitate down-taking after Gardening Scotland, and transfer to the RBGE, Inverleith, for re-hanging of the exhibition.


Artists are expected to be on duty at least part of the time at Gardening Scotland; and to make arrangements with other exhibitors, to oversee their work, when they are not there.  Leaving your work to be supervised by others will be at your own risk. 

The exhibition at the John Hope Gateway is normally curated and staffed by the BISCOT committee/friends, but it involves a great deal of time and manning, and we actively encourage exhibiting artists, where possible, to take a turn on ‘duty’ to show visitors around the exhibition.


Works are to be mounted, preferably in off-white, and unframed.  Exhibitors should ensure that the mounted pictures are protected with a transparent sheet which does not impede judging.  Some artists may prefer to cover both the picture and the mount with transparent film.  Illustrations and notes for mounting are included after the application form at the end of these regulations.

Exhibition boards and staging

At Gardening Scotland the boards measure 2.28m. high x 0.914m. wide (7ft. 6ins. high x 3 feet wide).  Please note the width of paintings is limited by the width of the staging board at this venue.  Artists are allocated three boards each.  The display boards, which are currently covered in mid-grey coloured fabric, extend to floor level, but it is suggested that work should not extend below 76cm. (2ft. 6ins.) above ground level.  Each display area is divided from the next by a board placed at right angles between each exhibitor.  The fixing of works to these screens is by means of hooked ‘Velcro’ pads/strips on the back of the exhibits, cards and notices.

At the John Hope Gateway, the boards are different to those at Gardening Scotland. They are shorter in height, are wider, and painted white, so that it is not possible to exactly replicate the display used at Gardening Scotland.  Fixing to these boards is also by means of hooked ‘Velcro’.

Photographs of the display screens can be found at the end of the Regulations.

Exhibiting artists will be sent an information sheet containing all the details required, including information on how to get to the exhibition centre, and staging details.


The following Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society medals are awarded at the discretion of the Judging Panel – Gold, Silver-gilt, Silver, and Bronze classes.  These take the form of embossed presentation cards.  There are no monetary awards.

The Judging Panel adheres to strict guidelines, and if it is felt that an exhibit falls below the expected standard, no award will be made.  The judges’ decision is final, but both written and verbal feedback are given to exhibitors.

The Mary Mendum Medal   

This medal is awarded in memory of Mary Mendum who was a taxonomist, and much admired botanical artist, who worked at the RBGE and who died prematurely in 2004.  This unique silver medal may only be awarded to an artist, who in the judges’ opinion, has presented an exceptionally outstanding exhibit.  The medal is presented engraved with the artist’s name and the year in which it is awarded.  If the same artist wins it subsequently, the artist may request the addition of the year date to be added to the medal already won, and a special award card will also be issued.

Selling of work

After the judging is completed, (on the Friday morning) exhibitors may arrange a holder for their business cards on their display site.

The prices of works for sale may not be displayed.  Instead, each artist must have a list of their works and the prices, placed in the folder of information which sits at the BISCOT desk.  If an artist is approached regarding a sale of an exhibit, it must be made very clear that such a transaction is only possible after the showing of the works at the exhibition at the RBGE, and that the sale is a private arrangement between the artist and the buyer.  Artists may take details and reserve works for interested parties during the exhibition periods.

All exhibitors are allowed to sell cards and prints of their work at the exhibitions, with a percentage of the profit going to BISCOT and the venue.  These cards and prints have proved very popular with visitors.  They may not be sold individually at display areas, but are logged in by a member of the committee, who then displays them on a variety of card stands and print racks arranged round the exhibition.


Exhibitors from abroad without a UK residence (known as NETPs – non-established taxable persons) who intend to sell work in the UK must register for UK VAT.  The application process can take up to 4 weeks. More information on UK VAT registration and NETP status is available at order under the heading ‘VAT Notice 700/1: should I be registered for VAT?’  It may be possible to claim UK VAT paid on expenses which relate to the items sold in theUK, but you should check this with HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs).

There is a VAT telephone Helpline on 0300 200 3700 or from abroad, +44 2920 501 261, and you can register online free at

However, if your work is not for sale, the simplest way is to bring it into the country in your luggage when you arrive for the exhibition.

Information and advice about this, is sent out to exhibitors along with the general information sheet.

Shipping back of artworks displayed at BISCOT

Artists must make arrangements, and pay in advance for the return of any works that they are NOT collecting themselves at the appointed time, and provide all necessary return documentation (such as Couriers and custom forms, insurance forms and address labels) All return costs are the responsibility of the artist and must be paid by the artist to the courier/carrier. The BISCOT organisers will be responsible ONLY for ensuring that the articles are collected by, or in exceptional circumstances, delivered locally to the courier/carrier. 

The artist is also responsible for providing suitable protective wrapping in the event that they do not collect the items personally. Any costs incurred by the organisers with regard to wrappings will be charged to the artist, payment for which must be made before the goods are returned.

Judging criteria

The judges look at the individual quality of the paintings/drawings and the way they look together as a complete exhibit; and the following points are considered:-

  • the depiction of the plants should be botanically accurate
  • show a high level of draughtsmanship and painting skills
  • both the composition of each painting and the complete exhibit are noted
  • all written names, including Latin names, must be accurate and well presented
  • the mounts are appropriate to the exhibit,
  • the overall design of the exhibit enhances the paintings
  • paintings have a themed subject

A copy of the 2017 regulations, application form and advice on the recommended method of mounting is now available here.