Image shown: Detail from Tom Molloy's Oak (1998)

Saolta Arts and Galway 2020 present West of Sumer, the first exhibition of The Deepest Shade of Green, an arts and health programme for Galway’s European Capital of Culture 2020. An exploration of plants known for their associations with modern medicine and traditional herbal remedies, West of Sumer is on display on the Arts Corridor and Foyer of University Hospital Galway until 13 April.

The exhibition features the work of artists interested in the collection, classification, control, and reproduction of the natural world, and includes botanical art, drawing, and photography.

‘…we will always need plants, even if plants don’t need us. Even today, with our urban and high tech lives, we are still made and changed by nature’ – Françoise Sergy on her art and science project The Fox Got You

Participating artists
West of Sumer includes botanical art by 14 members of the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society (UK) and others by Sophia Rosamund Praeger and Lydia Shackleton (IE) on loan from the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland. Selected from an original partnership between Chelsea Physic Garden and the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, the work of the Florilegium Society presents plants used to treat conditions of the heart and lungs.

Those featured in Praeger’s original pen and ink illustrations for the book Open‐Air Studies in Botany by her brother, the naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger, have been selected for their associations with cures for kidney and urinary complaints.

Shackleton’s watercolours, originally intended as teaching aids for the National Museum of Ireland, portray Irish native wild flora connected to the treatment of tuberculosis and found growing in the grounds of Merlin Park University Hospital, Galway’s former sanatorium.

After moving to the Burren, Tom Molloy (IE) became interested in the collection, classification and registration of the natural world carried out by botanists in the area. Focusing on 32 individual leaves from one particular oak tree to query how we arrive at the general idea of a species, his work Oak is on loan from the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Diana Scherer’s (DE/NL) photographic portraits of Nettle and Dandelion reveal the root systems of plants she has grown from seed within the confines of a vase as part of an ongoing enquiry into our relationship with nature and the desire to control it.

Other photographic works in the exhibition by Françoise Sergy (CH/UK) trace the global journey of plants used in the pharmaceutical industry, from field, to lab, to factory. These have been selected from her art and science project The Fox Got You which celebrates six common plants at the origin of five major drugs, and she began as a way of saying thank you to the plant Goat’s Rue, which indirectly keeps her alive.

Official launch
In celebration of West of Sumer, Saolta Arts welcomes Irish garden designer Diarmuid Gavin to University Hospital Galway on Wednesday 18 March 2020 where he will give a talk on the healing power of gardens and launch West of Sumer.

West of Sumer is supported by Galway 2020, Saolta Arts, Saolta University Health Care Group, Chelsea Physic Garden, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and National Botanic Gardens of Ireland.

For further details on the exhibition see


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