Entering the Botanics in the dark is unusual enough – Edinburgh residents are accustomed to spending many hours wondering around the fabulous grounds but always during the hours of daylight so it immediately felt really special even be allowed in after dark. We were to enter via a Portal in the famous beech hedge where lighting artist Malcolm Innes and colleague Euan Winton wanted us to “leave the city behind, and begin to consider our relationship with nature”.
Passing twisted bark and dappled shade we found, The Galaxy of Bits, an installation representing the vast amount of scientific work that is undertaken in the Botanics.
Down at the pond, the many different environments available to flora and fauna at the Botanics are celebrated with a spectacular sweeping light show which dances across the land and the water to music created by jazz musician Haftor Medboe (who I was lucky enough to hear at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival and am now fairly obsessed by his album Places and Spaces) where it would not overly surprise you if you saw wildlife performing balletic poses.
Back on the path, normally so familiar but now strangely disorientating we are attracted by random red tubes which lie like lava leaking from the ground.
On up to Inverleith House which is transformed by William Morris inspired projections on its normally formal and sober stone facade tricking us into thinking we are now inside a great ballroom rather than outside on a cold Edinburgh night. It plays with the idea that despite wanting to shelter inside buildings, humans very often surround themselves with plant imagery on wallpaper and paintings and have ‘house plants’ in our homes as we crave that connection to nature. Inside Out, instead, brings the inside, outside.
Having had our visual feast, we leave the garden via the Pool of Serenity, a quiet, calm and truly beautiful installation.
So as our hours of daylight diminish, I think the Royal Botanic Gardens and Malcolm Innes have truly made our Winter darkness a celebration and I for one very much hope they run this magical event again next year.