Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Unearthing Secrets and Sorrow

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Unearthing Secrets and Sorrow

Article excerpt

The history of a sanctuary where science meets art is an emotionally charged work, says Timothy Mowl

Another Green World: Linn Botanic Gardens - Encounters with a Scottish Arcadia

By Alison Turnbull with Philip Hoare

Artbooks, 176pp, £18.99

ISBN 9781908970213

Published 19 October 2015

Red incised lettering on a pale grey linen cover, wrapped around with a photographic slip featuring lush, rain-soaked vegetation and a small summer house with red painted windows, suggest that what is called for is an investigation, rather than a straight review, of this study of a garden "shaped by the subtle interplay of science and art, beauty and design, mathematics and colour". Its unusual suspects are an art publisher, a writer and an artist, a creative arts centre, and a father and son, who together planted a botanical garden strung along terraces below a decaying 1860s Italianate house overlooking Loch Long on the Rosneath peninsula in Argyll and Bute. And then there is the tantalising mystery of the book's simple dedication - "For Jamie".

This is not a scholarly book, but a beautifully crafted artwork. There are no plans of the garden, only a brief historical narrative - Jim Taggart began it in 1971 and the garden was taken over by his son Jamie in 1989 - and no systematic analysis of its many and varied plants, although a list can be found tucked into a pocket at the back marked "work in progress as at October 2013 compiled by Jamie Taggart". The text by Philip Hoare, an authority on decadence, dandyism and whales, takes the form of an elegiac diary of visits made to Linn during a research residency with Alison Turnbull at Cove Park arts centre, which is just up the peninsula. Turnbull is a Colombian-born painter and sculptor. Some of her drawings are included here, one of which is a paint chart inspired by the colours of rhododendrons, their Latin names substituted for the normal Pantone numbers. …

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