Edinburgh Science Festival: Visions of greener Edinburgh go on display in virtual exhibition

Visions of a greener Edinburgh created by local artists and ecologists have gone on display in a virtual gallery of art as part of this year’s Edinburgh Science Festival.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 12:30 pm

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Among the artworks in the free exhibition, which runs until July 11, are a picture of “Leith-on-Sea”, successfully defending against rising sea levels and extreme rain events, and an image of Nicolson Street, one of the most polluted streets in Scotland, transformed into a resilient and renovated tree-covered boulevard.

Artists have collaborated with ecologists from Scottish Wildlife Trust, the city council and others to imagine a greener future for the Capital and demonstrate how problems like carbon emissions, flooding, heatwaves and even social justice could be tackled with nature-based solutions in familiar places.

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Leith Walk on the Wild Side by Donya Davidson and Sarah Hannis

And visitors to the digital exhibition can also offer their own ideas for future green spaces, which will be displayed alongside the artwork in the gallery. Their visions will inform the council’s plans for the future.

Dr Chris Jeffs, of the British Ecological Society and curator of the exhibition, said: “This cutting-edge exhibition is the first-time local artists and ecologists have been brought together to envisage the future of Edinburgh’s green spaces. It offers a way for the residents of Edinburgh and beyond to have their say on how green spaces should look like in future, and how they can tackle environmental challenges in their local area.

“Ecologists are on the front lines in our battle against climate change, and nature-based solutions in our green spaces, like those depicted in the exhibition, offer enormous hope. We want everyone to understand the climate crisis and the role ecology and nature-based solutions can play in a greener, sustainable future.”

Leith-on-Sea by Abi Gardner and Sam Wilson

Ecologist Donya Davidson, project development officer at Scottish Wildlife Trust said existing green spaces already provided many benefits to both people and wildlife and the right interventions in the right places could improve even more areas to do likewise.

“The artwork I collaborated on, Leith Walk on the Wild Side, shows Leith Walk, but not as people know it now. It is thriving with wildlife and residents are out enjoying all the new green space they now have on their doorsteps. The nationally scarce northern brown argus butterfly, previously only found in Holyrood Park, now moves freely down the street from planter to planter. Although it is an aspirational vision, I hope it is something we can see in the not-so-distant future, for a connected, biodiverse and sustainable Edinburgh.”

Sarah Hannis, illustrator of Leith Walk on the Wild Side, said: “Leith Walk is currently one of the least green parts of Edinburgh so I re-imagined it totally green! Green paths with wildflower areas lie to either side. Building eves are lined with swift nesting boxes and each window has its own planter with pollinator-friendly plants. Nest boxes and bug hotels hang on every wall and there's even a small pond. The whole street becomes a thriving green wildlife corridor, boosting biodiversity and all the human wellness benefits that come from immersing ourselves in nature and coexisting alongside it.”

Leith-on-Sea by Abi Gardner and Sam Wilson.

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