Mairi Gillies: Natura Sensus
Hortisculpturist explores the relationship between art and plants
This article is from 2010.
Mairi Gillies explores the interventionist nature of horticulture, which, as opposed to agriculture, isn’t always for harvesting, but rather for aesthetic, ownership and collection purposes. As a sculptor, she works with the notion of cultivating these commodities. She previously worked as a horticulturist at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and is now keen to find her own voice, hence the newly crafted title ‘hortisculpturist’.
In this exhibition 44 plant compositions have been mounted in wooden display cases. Each piece is structured in the same way: on the right is a dried cutting of a flower or plant, and on the left the artist has painted a plane of solid colour and made a pencil drawing of the exact same flower. These are displayed at eye level and, tightly packed, fill the circumference of the room. The multi-coloured planes in the cases reference the colour spectrum and run from lemon yellow to sap green. Parts of the leaves too have been painted in gold leaf, causing them to glitter as your eye catches a glimpse of their unexpected luminosity.
The plants themselves are objects of incredibly delicate beauty, but somehow they lose their uniqueness among the plenitude: less might indeed have been more. One object has been framed and this glass-fronted containment certainly adds to the preciousness of the artist’s intention.
The traditional relationship of art and horticulture is clearly employed here, but the literal showcasing does not explore its full potential. The question is: what will she harvest next?
Atticsalt, 225 2093, until 4 Sep (not Sun, Mon), free.