Over the past four weeks, the John Hope Gateway has been host to an exhibition created by the artists from the Scottish charity Garvald, which supports adults with learning disabilities (for more information see below.)  Featuring 10 artists, it is a diverse exhibition including almost every medium, and a variety of ideas and working methods.  The artists have worked with the living and preserved collections of the RBGE over a period of two years, and it is fantastic to see the results displayed within the John Hope Gateway.

Install 1


One of my favourite pieces in the show is ‘Fallen Tree (After the Storm)’ by Michael McLennan.  The Garden donated the tree to Michael after it was blown down in a storm last year, and the film which complements the exhibition in the film booth (towards the back of the exhibition space), shows Michael working patiently with a hand tool to strip the bark from the tree trunks.  This process he repeats until the trunks are smooth and entirely clean of bark.  Acknowledging this process, he has chosen to include the entire tree in the exhibition; and the wood shavings carpet the floor between the 9 trunks in the exhibition space.


Another favourite of mine is ‘Alchemy II’ made by members of the textile studio at Garvald.  The shadow cast by the felted balls of naturally died wool in the sun is particularly striking in the early morning.


It has been a real pleasure to work with the artists of Garvald, and the workshop leaders who support them in their creative activity.  Encompassing not only art and craft studios, Garvald also has a bakery and confectionary department.  During the installation of this exhibition I was lucky enough to try a slice of the confectionary’s pear and ginger cake.  Delicious!


Garvald Edinburgh is a Scottish Charity that offers creative opportunities and support for people with learning disabilities. A focus on art and craft offers a wide range of possibilities for people to express creativity and be connected to nature. Central to the working practice at Garvald is the belief that each individual has a unique contribution to make. They aim to support individuals to fulfil their potential within Garvald and the wider community. In manifesting their ideas in artworks the Artists of Garvald have made a significant contribution to the Garden’s education programme in their own distinct and skilled way.

Naturally: Garvald Artists at the Botanics is open until Sunday 23 March.