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The art of capturing nature on metal

Gozo metal artist Jackie Roberts has been invited to stage a solo exhibition by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the renowned centre for plant research, conservation and education founded in 1670.

I’m inspired by the landscapes of my mind and the natural world

The Nature of Metal is being shown at two of the organisation’s regional gardens from this month to July.

Opening at the Dawyck Botanic Garden, nestled in the woodland hills of the Scottish Borders, Ms Roberts’s work will be seen by thousands of visitors from all over the world.

The exhibition will then move to the Logan Botanic Garden where plants from the Southern Hemisphere and the Mediterranean thrive on a peninsula warmed by the Gulf stream in the southwest of Scotland.

Ms Roberts was born in Castleford, West Yorkshire but spent 18 years in Scotland before moving permanently to Gozo in 2001.

She now creates art in metal full-time and is part of the community of foreign and local artists and craftspeople who live on the island.

She is pursuing her passion for metal after a career in environmental education and media relations.

Since her first solo exhibition, Go Fish, in 2007, Ms Roberts contributed work to numerous collective displays in Malta and Gozo.

Her new display, The Nature of Metal, includes more than 30 pieces created over the past eight months.

“I’m inspired by the landscapes of my mind and the natural world, particularly the sea,” says Ms Roberts.

“I often use recycled metal, scrap, objects I have found and plant material in my work; reincarnating what other people have discarded.

“I use power and hand tools to cut, texture, mark and shape mild and stainless steel, copper and brass; creating colour using a technique of controlled burning to bring out the hues and tones within the metal.

“I like to work with the texture of rust; sometimes I leave metal sheet out in the rain or I pick up a piece of scrap which attracts me just by the way it has aged. Rust is, after all, just another aspect of the transitional elements which make up the metal.”

Ms Roberts is inspired by the plants and trees around her in the changing light. But she also enjoys making “Critters” which are creature creations.

“They are lizards, owns, marine life and cats,” she says. “Some are realistic others fanciful or stylised.”

One of these is Namrata (sweetheart), a Gozo sheep reincarnated from a cast iron bed leg found in the countryside.

Her exhibition includes three wall-mounted sculptures formed from an old copper water tank, originally manufactured in Scotland and transported to Gozo when she moved here.

“The Burr Shields are inspired by burrs on a huge, multi-stemmed fir tree,” she says.

“And Living Stone is a picture in metal-based mosses and lichens.”

Ms Roberts was also inspired by a piece of vintage mohair tweed and she created two media pieces Threads from metal and plant material.

“They remind me of the threads occurring in nature and the autumn colours of Scotland,”she says.

The exhibition venues and dates:

• Dawyck Botanic Garden, Stobo, nr. Peebles, Scottish Borders:
February 5 – April 29

• Logan Botanic Garden, Port Logan, Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway:
May 5 – July 1.

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