Sarah Carpenter Botany Mirror

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Ideally sized for a pocket or handbag, this hand mirror features Sarah Carpenter's watercolour inspired by the history of plant migration and the SS Great Britain.

The four orchid species featured on this mirror were originally brought to the UK on board Brunel's ship. Victorian botanists used new technology - the Wardian Case - to transport exotic plants back to Europe. There they would fill the conservatories and glass houses of the wealthy.

The impact of this new trade in botany can still be felt today. Nurserymen like Thomas Lang also used steamships like the SS Great Britain to take native European crops and plants out to Australia. Intended to provide food, or perhaps make the British abroad feel more at home, these plants in their own way formed part of European colonisation.

In the UK, many of the plant species now familiar to us first arrived on our shores as part of this Victorian fascination with botany.