Cycles in Nature

Cycles in Nature

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh (RBGE) is home to a plant collection comprising over 13,500 species. Artists have long been inspired by the natural world, and a new exhibition – Florilegium: A Gathering of Flowers at Inverleith House – responds to RBGE’s globally important specimens. New and never-before-seen works by contemporaries Lee Mingwei, Annalee Davis, Wendy McMurdo and Lyndsay Mann join over 40 established botanical artists such as Mieko Ishikawa, Dianne Sutherland and Sansanee Deekranjang. 

The show celebrates the “power of flowers” – their ability to communicate cultural, historic and scientific ideas across borders. Selected artists highlight ideas of death, renewal and ritual, whilst exploring complex and troubling colonial histories through the legacy of plants. These pieces span a variety of media, from photography and moving image to works on paper.

Shown here are works by Scottish artist and photographer Wendy McMurdo, created during lockdown. Night Garden was inspired by the flowers growing in the garden beyond her studio. McMurdo watched germination, growth and renewal from her window, finding it to be in direct opposition to the static world inside and online. The artist’s mother died in early May, and in the weeks that followed her death, McMurdo spent her time documenting this growth cycle which seemed more urgent than ever.

As well as personal stories, Florilegium also taps into essential conversations about the climate crisis. “The year 2020 and the coronavirus is revealing truths about the fragility of our ecosystems and the need to halt biodiversity loss,” says Emma Nicolson, Head of Creative Programmes at RBGE. “At a time when our ecological future depends so much on deeper connection to the natural world, these artists present captivating and imaginative responses to plants and flowers when it has never been more important.”

16 October – 13 December. Find out more here.

1. Wendy McMurdo, Night Garden (Wisteria). 2020
2. Wendy McMurdo, Indeterminate Object V (Flora), 2019.
3. Wendy McMurdo, Indeterminate Object I (Flora), 2019.
4. Wendy McMurdo, Night Garden (Cardiocrinum Seed Pods), 2020
5. Wendy McMurdo, Night Garden (Cardiocrinum), 2020