Jackie gets into heavy metal for new exhibition

Jackie Roberts working (plasma cutting mild steel sheet)
Jackie Roberts working (plasma cutting mild steel sheet)

A new exhibition of art in metal opens the 2012 season at Dawyck Botanic Garden, Stobo, near Peebles, this week.

Running until April 29, The Nature of Metal showcases the award-winning work of artist Jackie Roberts who, in a former career, was the first press officer to be employed by Dawyck’s parent organisation, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). Jackie now lives and works on the Maltese island of Gozo.

The Nature of Metal, Jackie’s second solo exhibition, reflects elements of the character and plant diversity of Dawyck and of its sister Garden, Logan, in Dumfries and Galloway. It also draws upon influences and inspiration from Gozo and her travels in New Zealand, Africa and Scotland. The pieces cross the boundaries of art and craft, using traditional metalworking techniques to make imaginative, hand-fashioned artwork.

Explaining the aspirations behind the exhibition, which includes more than 30 pieces, Jackie explained: “I’m inspired by the landscapes of my mind and the natural world, particularly the sea; cultural symbolism and modernist design. I often use recycled metal, scrap, found objects and plant material in my work; reincarnating what other people have discarded.

“Particular thanks go to the Ministry for Gozo and Malta Tourism Authority. Without their financial support, the staging of this exhibition would not have been possible”.

The exhibition includes three wall-mounted sculptures formed from an old copper water tank, originally manufactured in Scotland and transported to Gozo. Burr Shield #1 and #2 are inspired by burrs on a huge, multi-stemmed Douglas fir growing at Dawyck. Living Stone is a picture in metal based on mosses and lichens colonising the famous Dawyck ornamental stonework.

Inspired by a piece of vintage mohair tweed by Borders textile designer Bernat Klein, the artist also created two mixed media pieces: Threads, from metal and plant material; and Palm Ladders, based on observations of the palm trees in the garden behind her Gozo workshop.

Alan Bennell, RBGE head of visitor communications, who employed Jackie from 1990 to 1995, commented: “I have no doubt this is an exhibition which will inspire visitors across the board. It is a perfect display for Dawyck, created by an artist with a deep appreciation for nature combined with knowledge of the artistic possibilities of metal.

“It is also wonderfully rewarding to work again with a respected former colleague who has created an exciting new niche for herself on this beautiful Mediterranean island”.

Some of Jackie’s wearable art – affordable funky plant and animal brooches, pendants and handbag charms/keyrings -– are available for sale in the Botanics’ shop.