This exhibition draws from the rich holdings of the British Council Collection and the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh archives for an inspiring glimpse into how the expeditionists of the past and contemporary artists of the present have delighted and provoked us with their responses to plants, flowers and gardens.
When Charles Darwin was 22 he embarked on a remarkable foreign adventure which changed the rest of his life. Included here is a small historical selection from the RBGE library revealing the observations and drawings of explorers to South America, including specimens from Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. In his survey of uncharted lands, Darwin was able to see in the tiniest forms of life the framework of the world itself, spurring him to study our own course and purpose within the earth's evolution.
The contemporary art in the exhibition is from the British Council Collection augmented with loans from private collections and the artists themselves. As we struggle to make sense of changing landscapes and climates, today's artists are investigators of life, expressing as much about the fragility of our own existence as about the continuing importance to explore and preserve the natural world.
These artists also assume the role of modern-day explorers, making connections between ourselves and nature. For many of them, travel educates and informs their work. They seek to examine and understand the world around us, and they encourage us to join them on their personal journeys. Within this lies the legacy of Charles Darwin and his commitment to bringing new interpretations and rare discoveries to a wider world.
The exhibition is organised and curated by the Visual Arts Department, British Council, and is part of the Darwin Now programme, an international British Council programme celebrating the achievements and lasting legacy of Charles Darwin.
Artists in the exhibition are Kate Atkin; boredomresearch; Christine Borland; Dalziel+Scullion; Anya Gallaccio; Alexander Hamilton; Rob Kesseler; Tania Kovats; Michael Landy; Heather and Ivan Morison; Simon Starling; Alison Turnbull. A full colour 200 page publication in English/Spanish with additional artists' work, 11 essays and historical material exploring the subject more fully is available.
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