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Nienke Beets wins prize for connecting nature and art

Nienke Beets of the Leiden Hortus botanicus has won the brand new Joke 't Hart Prize for connecting nature and art. For the botanical garden in Leiden, she developed a series of colourful plant icons and an educational board game. On 20 May, the Dutch Association of Botanical Gardens (NVBT) unanimously selected her as the winner.

Colourful pictograms

Beets is a master's student in Biology at Wageningen University, but is also active one day a week in the education department of the Leiden Hortus. Here she developed a series of colourful plant icons that are displayed on plaques and maps. Beets is currently working on a new series of illustrations of general weed species for a citizen science project on weeds and invasive plants. She also developed an educational board game that challenges players to think about food security and is committed to the project 'Nature around the corner', a nature club for children in the Northern district of Leiden.

Three of Beets' illustrations: apple, cinnamon and carrot

The Joke 't Hart Prize

In 2018, the Dutch Association of Botanical Gardens (NVBT) established the Joke 't Hart Prize for connecting nature and art. This in honour of Joke 't Hart, who retired in the spring of 2018 and has dedicated herself with heart and soul to the gardens for years. To be eligible for the prize, the work must be surprising and playful, depict the (in)visible world of plants and have educational value, in other words, contribute to increasing the knowledge about plants among visitors to the gardens. The prize consists of a sum of € 500,- for the winning artist and a challenge cup for the winning garden.

De Instagrampost from Nienke Beets after winning the prize


All botanical gardens that are members of the NVBT can nominate someone for the prize. On her Instagram page (@Nienkebeest) Beets thanks the Hortus for nominating her. A cheerful self-portrait adorns her message. She knew nothing about her nomination and was doubly surprised when she got told that she had not only been nominated but even won the price! ‘I had no idea of a prize', she told the Noordhollands Dagblad (a regional newspaper). ‘I was just doing my job, drawing plants for the exhibition.’ Beets wants to use the prize money to invest in her own website.

Three of Beets' illustrations: avocado, orange and ostrich fern
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