Hard-hitting images call the tune around Scotland



Hard-hitting images call the tune around Scotland

Seven years after he introduced the world to Hard Rain, the soul-searching exhibition inspired by the Bob Dylan classic A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, leading environmental photographer Mark Edwards returns to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) with a powerful follow-up. In Hard Rain: Whole Earth?, Edwards responds to requests  from thousands of visitors and curators around the world for a display presenting solutions to the challenges explored in Hard Rain.


Running outdoors in the Fossil Courtyard from March 14 to July 1, Whole Earth? combines hard-hitting images and powerful text to illustrate the urgent need to find new ways of showing political and business leaders the public swell of support for sustainable development. It includes a section specially dedicated to What Scotland Is Doing, showcasing a range of sustainable projects around the country.

In the run-up to the Rio Earth Summit, in June, and approaching the 50th anniversary of the writing of Dylan’s evocative song, this exhibition also seeks to elicit immediate responses from visitors. Housed in a unique and colourful Barbola tent is a touch-screen monitor that allows everyone to join the debate and answer the challenge: What’ll You Do Now?. Outside, a new version of Hard Rain serves as a vivid reminder of the price of inaction.

RBGE’s Head of Visitor Communications and Curator of Hard Rain: Whole Earth? at the Botanics, Alan Bennell, said it was singularly appropriate that the Garden, with its international outreach and conservation role, should host the exhibition in Scotland: “After witnessing the responses motivated by the previous Hard Rain show in 2007, there was never any doubt we should present the sequel Hard Rain: Whole Earth? to our visitors. This stunning, unforgettable display cannot fail to inspire and engage everyone who sees it. For Mark Edwards, the urgency of articulating our headlong collision with nature has become an almost evangelical mission: the Hard Rain project aims to rouse its audience into addressing the excessively negative impact we are all having on our environment”.


While its message remains stark, Edwards has described Hard Rain:Whole Earth? as a “100-metre banner of hope, tempered with concern that we are not moving fast enough to scale up proven solutions. Everything is set to take sustainable development centre-stage, but we hesitate. We do not yet suffer fully from the pollution we spew out, so we pretend to be negotiating towards a sustainable world; we pretend we are making progress. We must not keep pretending until it is too late”.


Welcoming the arrival of Whole Earth? in Edinburgh, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson, said; “This is a stunning photographic exhibition, showing some of the most innovative and exciting ways that normal Scottish people are helping to lower emissions and protect our beautiful environment. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is the perfect venue to host such an exhibition, and I very much hope that everyone who comes to view it will feel inspired and motivated to take action themselves”.

Produced by the Hard Rain Project and presented by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Hard Rain:Whole Earth? is generously supported by the Scottish Government and the People's Postcode Lottery. Its opening will be followed, on Tuesday, March 27, by What’ll You Do Now?, a lecture evening at RBGE. The carbon emissions from Hard Rain Project have been fully offset through Rainforest Concern's Forest Credits programme.

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For interviews, images or further information contact Shauna Hay on 0131 248 2900 or Sandra Donnelly on 0131 248 1037.

Editor’s Notes

Hard Rain background

July 1969: photographer Mark Edwards, lost on the edge of the Sahara desert, is rescued by a Tuareg nomad who takes him to his people. The nomad rubs two sticks together to make a fire and produces a cassette player. Bob Dylan sings “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”: “sad forests”, “dead oceans”, “where the people are many and their hands are all empty.” As Dylan piles image upon image, Edwards has the idea to illustrate each line of the song. In the years that follow, he travels around the world on assignments that allow him to capture the photographs that turn Dylan’s prophetic words into images of the real world.


Hard Rain:

The result is Hard Rain, an outdoor exhibition that brings global challenges alive in a moving and unforgettable way. More than 15 million people on every continent have viewed it in city centres, botanic gardens, universities, and at the United Nations headquarters, since its launch at the Eden Project in May 2006. One of the most successful photographic exhibitions ever created, it has attracted huge public and critical acclaim, along with the support and endorsement of political and environmental leaders across the world.


A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, reportedly penned in half-an-hour, was composed by Dylan during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. This was the point of Cold War confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States when missiles were allegedly placed in Cuba to protect the island from further attacks by its neighbour, following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion to overthrow the Castro Government.

Tickets for the lecture in RBGE Lecture Theatre are £2 and can be booked via the Press & Marketing Office:
press@rbge.org.uk or purchased from the John Hope Gateway visitor centre.


Hard Rain – the book and DVD will be available for sale at RBGE throughout the duration of the exhibition, each priced at £12.


Hard Rain:Whole Earth? Tour – Following its run at Edinburgh, the exhibition will tour RBGE’s Regional Gardens at Benmore, in Argyll; Logan, in Dumfries & Galloway and Dawyck, in the Scottish Borders in 2013.

Mark Edwards is one of the most widely published editorial photographers in the world. Based in London, he founded Still Pictures, regarded as the leading photoagency specialising in environmental issues, the Third World and nature.

People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL) is a charity subscription lottery – players sign up to a monthly £10 ticket and their postcode is entered into five draws each month. The United Postcode Lotteries, (which runs fundraising lotteries in Holland, Sweden and PPL in

the UK) is the third largest private donor to good causes in the world. It supports an extraordinary range of projects that enable NGOs to tackle the kind of problems illustrated in Hard Rain.



The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education and plant conservation action in more than 80 countries around the world. In Scotland its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan attract nearly a million visitors each year.  It operates as a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. It is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. Its mission is “exploring and explaining the world of plants for a better future”.


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The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)