As a student I worked in a gallery for 5 years and have been to many openings of exhibitions, but I have never been on the other side, setting one up. Therefore, last Friday was the first time for me to be an active part of an exhibition, which aimed to increase appreciation of the beauty and complexity of roots and to portray the essential roles of roots in environmental sustainability and food security. It is my please to say that it was great!

This was a collaborative approach of course, as anything in science is, and was supported by The Centre of the Knowledge Exchange and Impact of the Scottish Government. The force behind it all was Jean Duncan, a CECHR artist in residence, who is not only great artist but also an amazing person and I’m very grateful I could work with her. She created a beautiful set of root images using different artistic techniques (etching and printing, mainly) and produced paper form different plant fibres. Not much could be done without Prof. Philip White, my supervisor, but also the main actor in acquiring the funding and in writing the text accompanying the scientific images of roots exhibited and presented in the booklet we created for the occasion. Other collaborators comprised Dr Lionel Dupuy (The James Hutton Institute), Prof. Glyn Bengough (The James Hutton Institute and University of Dundee), Prof. Ian Bingham (Scotland’s Rural College) and Prof. Jane Wishart (University of St Andrews). Last but not least was excellent technical support, particularly from Gladys Wright, my second hand when it came down to designing the hydroponic system and all other small bits and pieces that needed to be worked out, Lloyd Crichton and David Laird from the institute’s workshops, who actually built the equipment for the hydroponic system, and Ralph Wilson and Jackie Thompson, who helped set the exhibition up. Thanks to Tracy for the time lapses of swede seed germination!

Here are some photos from the opening.

The venue and me explaining the roots to the youngest visitors.
Lionel (on the right) giving the welcome speech and introducing Jean. In the background: the hydroponic system (left) and the root cross sections printed on the plant paper made by Jean (right).
Glyn introducing the work on roots and their importance in environmental sustainability and food security.
Jean’s work on the wall – etchings of roots (whole root systems and root cross sections), printed on paper made from different plant fibres. Scientific images are on the right.
Selected scientific images representing the importance of roots.
Beetroot, swede and carrot in transparent, custom-made hydroponic system.
Handmade paper from kozo (paper mulberry tree) with seedling of swede incorporated.