Storytelling Court at the Scottish Storytelling Centre
20.1.-20.2.2016 | Free Admission
by Amelia Aston
As part of the Edinburgh Student Arts Festival photography and art history student Gemma Batchelor is holding a solo exhibition at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile focussing on collections of indoor potted plants and the people who collect them. The artist was particularly interested in the reasons for taking this hobby to extremes. The exhibition, consisting of nine photographs and seven quotes from their owners offers a look into domestic spaces shared with nature, and the personal reasons behind the construction of them.
The photographs themselves are mostly quite beautifully shot, softly lit with natural light, offering an inviting and intimate glimpse into the homes that nature inhabits to varying degrees. The objects surrounding these small urban jungles themselves also tell their own stories, from the small reproduction of Venus de Milo wearing a bra to tall piles of books. While the photographs present the takeover of domestic spaces by untamed nature rather interestingly, one would not consider the degree of 'forestation' in these pictures quite as 'extreme' as the exhibition brief promises, as many pictures only show a couple of small house plants.
The quotes seem to be the most interesting part of the exhibition, offering a more personal view into the reasons behind the collection of house plants. From the quotes it is apparent that the growing of plants and vegetables is a way to connect with the past, as one of the interviewees says that their grandmother 'had a great big garden where we would sit and listen to classical music next to piles of earth'. The quotes provide the viewer with the dreams and memories which the plants embody to their owners. As another quote in the exhibition states, 'I have a fascination with palm trees, but I have never lived anywhere exotic enough'. While the quotes themselves offer a glimpse into the inner workings of the minds of these private botanists, it would have been interesting to see more of this. For example the people behind the quotes could have been included in the photographs, and short biographies about how they started their collections could have been included.
Though the pictures of the exhibition are nicely shot and interesting, they seem to accompany the quotes rather than vice versa. The space provided for the exhibition by the Storytelling Court offers plenty of light and space for the exhibition and reflection on it, but as it is adjoined to a busy café you can't do this quite as privately as you would like to.
More info about the exhibition: Scottish Storytelling Centre
More info about Gemma Bachelor: https://gembatchelor.wordpress.com/
Images are courtesy of the artist
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