Kate Bailey started working life as a reluctant solicitor. At the age of 54, on the strength of nothing more than a magazine article about a paper conservator, she abandoned the law and enrolled at Camberwell College of Arts for a degree in paper conservation. After obtaining an M.A., and being accepted for a Ph.D., for three years Kate stalked Reeves in libraries, museums and auction houses while at the same time drawing on her own childhood memories of Singapore and Hong Kong in the early 1950s. A post-doctoral year at the V&A followed, working on a collaborative project into the pigments found on Chinese export paintings using the Reeves pictures for comparison. Then came a request for a book to bring the work of a modest, dedicated East India Company tea inspector and his band of skilful Chinese painters to a wider audience. Kate continues to research, write and lecture on Reeves and related art-botanical subjects.
'Not only are the pictures accurate and richly colored plant portraits of plants then unknown in the West, but they stand as a record of plants being cultivated in nineteenth-century Canton and Macau. In John Reeves: Pioneering Collector of Chinese Plants and Botanical Art, Kate Bailey reveals John Reeves' life as an East India Company tea inspector in 19th-century China and shows how he managed to collect and document thousands of Chinese natural history drawings, far more than anyone else at the time.' - Kate Bailey, Asian Review of Books