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Jan Patience: Idyllic gardens where creativity blossoms

© Martin ShieldsArtists Emma Hislop and Jack Brindley with their work at Marchmont House near Greenlaw
Artists Emma Hislop and Jack Brindley with their work at Marchmont House near Greenlaw

Rory McEwen was a fiercely creative soul who plied his trade as a folk musician and broadcaster between 1956 and 1965, before returning to his childhood passion of botanical art.

Born and raised in Greenlaw in the Borders, he started painting flowers when he was eight.

With no formal training, he turned to painting full-time in this 30s. Today, 40 years after his death, his work is in national and private collections worldwide and his artistic legacy lives on.

Last month, The Spirit of Rory McEwen, an exhibition of his botanical art, was held at Marchmont House where he grew up and it’s clear McEwen’s mercurial creative spirit still lingers there.

In the last three years, a partnership between Marchmont House and Wasps, Scotland’s national provider of creative spaces, has led to artists and makers finding acres of inspiration on the estate.

Award-winning painter Helen Flockhart, whose gorgeously detailed narrative paintings ooze with foliage and floral motifs, was just one of the artists to be awarded a residency at Marchmont.

© SYSTEM
Rory McEwen

Stained-glass artist Jack Brindley and Emma Hislop, whose work revolves around ecological issues, also spent time on the estate. Now, 16 artists – including Flockhart, Brindley and Hislop – who have all worked there have joined forces to show work on an ecological theme at Wasps’ Patriothall Gallery in Edinburgh.

Second Nature opened on Friday. The title is a nod to McEwen and his lasting influence.

Wasps chief executive officer Audrey Carlin said: “Second Nature celebrates what has been achieved with Wasps’ and Marchmont’s partnership so far. It gives the public a flavour of the diversity of output emanating from this idyllic location.”

Second Nature runs until July 24. Open Fridays and Saturdays, or by appointment.


A mural in Edinburgh’s Central Library celebrates the contribution made to the capital by 100 women. The work was co-ordinated by library adviser, Zoe Johnstone, step-daughter of pop artist Jann Haworth.

Utah-based Haworth is co-creator of the iconic Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover. Haworth has carried out similar mural projects and gave Johnstone her blessing for the Edinburgh mural.

Famous faces include medical pioneer Elsie Inglis and scientist Mary Somerville.