Andy G

Winter at the Botanics

After that second cup of tea I put on my wool long underwear and shearling hat and walked through the chilly streets of Edinburgh and down the Leith River to the Botanics. Because of its lower elevation and closer proximity to the sea, there wasn't as much frost in the garden as at home. Nevertheless, I walked around looking for photos, my only company the wood pigeons and a handful of visitors who had braved the cold.

It was nice to spend time in the garden in a visually creative way. I am there every week--sometimes multiple days per week--but for more than two years the focus of that time has been horticultural and taxonomic training, not art. Photographing in the frosty garden yesterday reminded me of one of the main reasons I want to work with plants--they are just so beautiful

Even on a day when weather conditions and the half-light of Scottish winter kept most people inside, fallen leaves and frozen foliage held my attention for several hours. I walked home in the four o'clock dark as snow squalls advanced from the east, grateful I'd seen the garden this day.

I keep thinking about an amazing BBC documentary I watched last week, called Forest, Field & Sky: Art Out of Nature, about artists who use nature as their medium. It featured David Nash, Charles Jencks, Julie Brook, my favorite Andy Goldsworthy, among others, and lots of artworks created in Scotland. It was one of the best and most inspiring films I've seen, so check it out if you can (it's also on YouTube though the quality doesn't do justice to the art). I revisited one of the Goldsworthy pieces at the Botanics yesterday, enjoying the surrounding warm-colored leafy gradient combined with the cool slate, and how the fallen leaves added an extra element--a stripe of orange--of which Goldsworthy would no doubt approve. 

Slate, Hole, Wall by Andy Goldsworthy (1990)