Revisiting a Victorian tradition
It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again
-John Steinbeck. Sea of Cortez, 1951
This exhibition of sea flora represents only a fraction of the species of seaweeds to be found growing along the east coast of Scotland. Blanketing the rocks and foreshores of our estuaries, bays and inlets, they are a familiar sight to the beach-goers, fishermen and sailors. But few of us have seen beyond the fringes of leathery wracks and rubbery kelps at harbour’s edge, or the heaped and tangled detritus cast up by a stormy sea.
Gathering and pressing seaweeds was a serious pastime for Victorians. They sent their specimens to fellow collectors around the world in quest of discovering new species and contributing to botanical science. Once dried, labelled and catalogued they were consigned to dusty albums – many of which still make up the core of our Herbarium today.
Inspired whilst collecting herbs along the beautiful coastline from Aberlady Bay to Dunbar, artist Sara Dodd returned to this tradition to look again at the flora at the water’s edge. Initially pressing to identify and display, she became engaged with the abstract beauty of organic form eroded by the destructive forces of tide and time. Her focus has evolved to capturing moments of transition, highlighting a particular specimen’s translucency, coloration, character, or flow and playing with the blur between graphic line, abstraction and aesthetics.
Sara Dodd as born in Carmel, California and grew up along the Monterey Coast and San Francisco Bay. She studied History of Art and Landscape Architecture at UC Berkeley and moved to Scotland in 1988. Completing the Herbology Course at the RBGE in 2011 her work is collected by private buyers and forms the basis of new prints and textile designs.