Plant Scenery of the World presents new, commissioned and existing work by Laura Aldridge, Charlie Billingham, Bobby Niven, Oliver Osborne and Ben Rivers alongside rare and unseen archival material, botanical paintings by Işık Güner, Jacqui Pestell and Sharon Tingey and historical paintings by R.K. Greville from the Garden’s own collection.
The exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Botanics’ iconic modernist glasshouses, the ‘Front Range’, opened in 1967 to house plants collected in tropical, temperate, rainforest and arid lands by Scottish explorers. Reflecting on the Garden’s 200 year history of building for plants, dialogical displays of newly commissioned artwork, exotic plants and archival material will critically examine the glasshouses’ past, current and future use, and evoke the theatrical, awe-inspiring, utopian and naturalistic display of plants under glass.
Considering the glasshouses as a nexus between culture and nature, contemporary works investigate plants through human culture, Enlightenment values and utopian ideologies, questioning human enquiry and the limits of perception. Artworks demonstrate the way plants are used as symbols, reflect on captivity and false habitats, and consider changing attitudes towards collection, exploration, study and display, mindful of historical narratives dominated by Western Imperial exploration.
Plant Scenery of the World takes its title from a series of apocryphal exotic landscapes by the artist-botanist R. K. Greville (1794 – 1866) on display for the first time.