RSPB Scotland’s Allie McGregor visited the Botanic Gardens recently to check out the Below the Blanket exhibition; A series of art installations inspired by the awe-inspiring Flow Country. Here she shares a little bit about the exhibition.

Below the Blanket: A sneak peek

The warm summer evening was perfect for a stroll through one of my favourite places in the city; Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens. It was the first evening showcasing the installations, and we were still a good week away from the Fringe audiences trickling in, so the gardens were remarkably peaceful. Throughout the exhibit the stunning gardens and the beautiful evening light brought an extra touch of magic to the experience.

botanic gardens lit by evening sunlight
Part of the joy of the exhibit was getting to be in the gardens in the evening with so few people!

You’re welcomed with an incredible video showcasing the amazing landscape of The Flow Country and some of the charming wildlife it hosts. The video sets the scene for the art you are about to experience.

An informational welcome board and a photo of RSPB Forsinard Flows

The exhibition is dominated by sound art pieces. There are sounds of The Flow Country, sounds of nature and breath-taking choral compositions, all displayed and delivered in unique ways. Some of these have visual elements; perhaps sculpture or some elaborate mechanism creating the sound. Others are enjoyed without any accompaniment other than the gardens around you. I found it quite peaceful to stand under the trees these pieces were at, a little hidden from everything else, and just enjoy it entirely to myself.

two bronze pipes emerging amongst trees

There are some dynamic pieces of visual art which were certainly some of my highlights, being more inclined towards visual art personally. Hannah Imlach’s sculpture work stands out with it’s articulate and thoughtful response to the environment of The Flow Country. Video reveals how her pieces were designed to interact directly with what was happening on the blanket bog. I was also quite taken with Heather Lander’s showcase of sphagnum mosses. Perhaps one of the more traditional art pieces in the exhibit, it highlighted a beauty to sphagnum moss and their complexity.

An informational sign beside a screen showing some leaves
A video of Hannah's sculpture work showed how the pieces interacted with The Flow Country environment

The final piece of the exhibition was my absolute stand-out favourite, and I’m sure I won’t be alone. Kathy Hinde’s ‘Skylark Walk’ was simple but special. I found it particularly delightful having almost no one around me, but I can also envision it being quite something surrounded by people sharing the experience. There is something so calming and so joyful about birdsong. I can’t imagine anyone finishing their Skylark walk feeling anything less than enchanted with a big smile on their face.

 

Below the Blanket is an outdoor evening event featuring visual, sonic and kinetic installations inspired by the blanket bog in the Scottish Highlands. It is on at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh until the 25th of August. Find out more here: https://www.rbge.org.uk/whats-on/below-the-blanket/

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