Inverleith House Gallery at the Botanics has some really exciting news to share. The gallery is a joint recipient of the Outset Transform Award which will be announced later today alongside Serpentine Galleries.

The award of £150,000 will allow the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) to turn the gallery into Climate House, where artists can engage with ecology scientists.

Inverleith House Gallery will embark on a new phase as it transforms into ‘Climate House’ as part of a three year project supported by the award of the Outset Contemporary Art Fund’s transformative Grant.

The funding from the Outset Contemporary Art Fund will be announced in a Facebook Live presentation at 4 o’clock this afternoon.

Climate House will show just how great the risks to our biodiversity are across the globe with art, conversation, food, architecture, video, text, illustration and mapping projects all thrown into the mix to explore the topic fully.

Listen to our chat with Emma Nicolson here:

One of the main artists who will create the immersive installation will be Australian artist Keg de Souza who is known for her socially engaged art practice. She has been invited by RBGE to create a transformative, transdisciplinary space for conversation and action, welcoming the broadest possible audience to challenge the Climate Crisis. She has in the past used inflatable and temporary architecture, so we are all agog to see what she will produce for the Botanics.

The experts at RGBE will be involved too, demonstrating their ecological expertise in a message about climate crisis. The collaboration with the Serpentine Galleries will allow RBGE to highlight their research and conservation projects in far flung parts of the world including South East Asia and Brazil The Serpentine will bring the artists who they worked with in their Back to Earth programme as well as new artistic collaborations.

Artists already working with teams at RBGE as part of this partnership include James Bridle, Kapwani Kiwanga, Fernando Garcia-Dory, Tabita Rezaire, Ayesha Tan-Jones and Cooking Sections, the team behind Atlas Arts award winning project CLIMAVORE.There will be a new solo show from 1997 Turner Prize nominee Christine Borland to be part of Climate House 2021 programme

In addition, the Outset Award has facilitated the foundation of the General Ecology Network, a new network of art and science organisations with a view to working together to face the Climate Crisis challenge. Created as a partnership between Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Serpentine Galleries the General Ecology Network is designed to bring together multidisciplinary expertise in the worlds of art and science to further our understanding and exploration of the planet.

Climate House will welcome artists from Scotland and around the world to showcase work that facilitates conversations about life on earth and expand our understanding of biodiversity and our place in the world. In 2021 this will include exhibitions with artists such as Christine Borland, Keg de Souza and Cooking Sections.

This will be the beginning of a new phase for Inverleith House and we interviewed Head of Creative Programmes, Emma Nicolson, about the exciting news.

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She said: “Inverleith House’s proximity to the world of plants, and the richness of scholarship and practice associated with RGBE, means that we have an abundance of resources at our disposal to begin thinking about the role of art institutions in the age of Climate Crisis. We believe that art has an important part to play in linking objects, images, processes, people, locations, histories and discourse in a physical space, opening up dialogues and imaginaries that could be critical in finding solutions to this crisis. 

“By turning our house into a home, we will welcome the 21st-century explorer – an explorer who listens to voices less heard, refuses to conform to the boundary between culture and nature, and is eager to imagine ways of living for the future.

“As a Botanic Garden, we have a unique history of high-quality programming in the arts. This award acknowledges an exciting juncture, as we launch our new manifesto for the arts.

“Working with artists, scientists and horticulturists, the Outset partners and Serpentine colleagues will help us reimagine our approach, provide visibility and advocacy to our new ambitions, and enable us to think and work differently, reflecting upon one of the most urgent concerns of our age.”

Simon Milne MBE, Regius Keeper, RBGE, said: “The world’s life support systems are in a hazardous state and the impact on the health and wellbeing of people across the continents is both apparent and frightening. The specialist  work of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, as an international leader in plant science, conservation and education, has never been more important in local, national and global efforts to address the huge and interconnected challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change.  

“In our 350th anniversary year – and the Serpentine’s 50th – this bold and exciting initiative creates new opportunities to build on our recognised artistic legacy and develop more sustainable and integrated arts, creative and cultural programmes. We welcome this opportunity, created by the Outset Contemporary Art Fund’s Transformative Grant to accentuate the creative link between the arts and sustaining our natural environment.  

“Climate House constructs a brilliant and visionary transition of Inverleith House. It will amply the institute’s priorities, developing an arts programme that integrates existing and new artistic events and exhibitions with our core environmental work. With a focus on quality, sustainability and engagement, it will communicate key messages by capitalising on our position as a world leading botanic garden.”

Outset’s ground-breaking Transformative Grant of £150,000 is awarded to a public institution or institutions to realise a significant project or develop an initiative with a marked transformative aspect. The award seeks to support organisations willing to take risks on behalf of genuine innovation and the prospect of meaningful impact. Climate House’s future vision alongside the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s new manifesto for the arts and partnership with Serpentine Galleries provided the scale, ambition and desire for change to secure the 2020 award.