Capital exhibition celebrates the life beneath our feet
Call it soil, earth or plain old muck, the world beneath our feet is a vital natural substance, teaming with life. In celebration of the Living Soil, artist-in-residence Natalie Taylor is bringing fresh insight to its true worth and complexities by transforming the John Hope Gateway exhibition space at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) into an inspiring and engaging mixed media experience, from Friday, February 10 to Monday, May 29.
Exploring the human relationship with soil, meeting some of the people who care for it, and considering the food production systems reliant upon it, the exhibition beautifully illustrates the relevance of soil to all sections of our lives and demonstrates its qualities as an art medium. Natalie Taylor applies multiple layers of knowledge around its unseen complexities, bringing us the vitality of soil not only through paintings, photographs and workshops, but also DNA analysis, poetic plates and a well-travelled cape.
Respected as an artist working across many different media to communicate the enormity of the ecological and climate crisis and provoke soul searching and action, she is both deeply passionate to the cause and sensitive to differing cultural aspects of art and community outreach. Collaboration is a key element of her work.
The artist explained: “During my residency at the Garden, I have connected with a significant number of staff and volunteers who care for our soil. From plant health scientists to conservation horticulturists and community gardeners, they have provided valuable input and permitted the use of photography in telling their stories. By collecting soil samples at the amazing composting areas in the Demonstration Garden and the Nursery and studying soil under microscopes in the Labs, I have built my knowledge of this hidden world and translated it into works of art.
“What I have found in soils' hidden depths is a treasure trove of beauty, energy and diversity and I truly feel compelled to connect people to this complex and fascinating habitat. Since starting to understand the importance of the role played by the complex interrelationships between soil organisms and the plants we eat every day, I have gained immense respect for the way our more sustainable crops are being produced. There is a strong argument for carefully weaning our conventional farming system off chemical fertilisers and pesticides , so doing the soil, and ourselves, a massive service.
“Sharing information and encouraging better understanding has never been more important. Most of us take soil for granted. Yet, increasingly, how we treat it will shape our health, our food supplies and the ability to filter - perhaps even access - water in some regions. Not only is soil one of the most fascinating habitats for life on Earth, it holds one of the keys to reversing our increasing CO2 output. It is crucial we open up the conversation.”
Explaining why Living Soil, supported by Players of People’s Postcode Lottery, is a central feature in this year’s RBGE calendar, Head of Creative Programmes, Emma Nicolson concluded: “As a research institute with a vibrant arts programme - which also welcomes visitors from around the world - we are acutely aware of the responsibility to articulate the intrinsic links between art and science. Soil is too often misunderstood and disregarded. Natalie Taylor’s vibrant exhibition not only dovetails so well with our core work, it will also delight and inform all who our venture into the John Hope Gateway this spring.”
Similar news stories
Tue 28th Nov 2023
Glasnevin provides a new home for Edinburgh Botanics’ plants
Wed 22nd Nov 2023
Purple Bar moth is 1,000th species sequenced in landmark project
Tue 14th Nov 2023
Edinburgh Botanics retains Plant Healthy certification
Thu 9th Nov 2023
From Khao Sok to Castlebay, local schools celebrate biodiversity
Explore our range of unique gifts and more. Every purchase supports the Garden.
Browse through our diverse range of formal and informal education programmes for people of all ages and at all levels
Host an Event
Explore our unique venues, suitable for every occasion
Discover a range of books inspired by the RBGE's work and collections