Artists In Residence

John Rutherford

We are very pleased to have Northumbrian artist John Rutherford as our resident sculptor in the Physic Garden.
Metalwork has been a lifelong trade for John Rutherford; he established a forge and workshop in a barn near the wild Kiln Pit Hill. Fairley Forge now produces works of art
His more abstract pieces include a giant spider’s web with a steel arachnid poised menacingly in the centre. His farm driveway features a sword in the stone inspired by the days of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

John has been commissioned to complete artworks in the Physic Garden over the past few years including the Dilstonia Phoenix. Other sculptures you can see in the Physic Garden include the Mugwort Goddess, Belladonna the Witch, Angelica Archangelica and, most recently, the St. John’s Wort Snake.

Pauline Aitken

We are delighted to welcome Artist in Residence, Pauline Aitken.  As part of her residency, Pauline will be working in response to the medicinal plants here in the Physic Garden from Saturday 2 July to Saturday 9 July when you can meet her, and discuss her work. As part of the residency, she will be holding one and two day workshops on the power of drawing
Pauline ( has a special interest in medicinal plants. Having studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, her work is represented extensively in public and private collections, both nationally and internationally. She lives and works in Eye, Suffolk.

aitkenPauline’s interest in microscopy, as an aid to revealing in greater detail the form and structure of the plants that are her subject matter, began in 2002. During this year, she undertook a research residency at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Cambridge, funded by an Awards for Artists and a Six of the Best award from Arts Council East. The residency enabled her to develop  botanical subject matter not only through microscopy, but also through digital imaging.This culminated in an exhibition, Bringing into Focus, which comprised large-scale digital prints, light-box works and installations at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden in 2003.
Since then, her work has centred on medicinal plants and their value to us all in a world where bio-diversity is under threat. In 2009, with the support of a grant from the Wellcome Trust, she worked at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Physiology, Development & and Neuroscience. The project, ‘Cardio-Active’, explored the structure of the human heart and the changes that occur when normal function ceases, alongside the benefits of the foxglove plant, which has been used for 250 years in the treatment of certain heart conditions. Visual relationships between plant and human tissue were explored through the composition of complex digital montages.

Major exhibitions of this work have taken place at BioCity Nottingham Cardio-Active; The Heart and the Foxglove (2009). In the Centre for Life Newcastle, Cardio-Active: A Different View of Treating the Heart; Moving from Digitalis to Digital (2010). Selected works were shown at Papworth Hospital (2009), Milton Keynes Hospital (2009 and 2011) and Newcastle Institute for Ageing and Health (2013) .
A publication is being planned to reflect Pauline’s exhibitions at Oxford, which will include work based on the foxglove inspired works exhibited at The University Botanic Garden.

The exhibition of Plants in Mind:Memory Matters in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge continued for several months during 2015.

Work produced to date from the project with the Physic Garden, Plants in Mind: Memory Matters,was exhibited at the John Radcliffe Hospital from July 12th to August 22nd 2015 (read more).
aitken2Pauline’s drawing workshop LOOKING INTO THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF PLANTS: A UNIQUE ART CLASS is on Tuesday 5 July and Wednesday 6 July 2016 as part of her residency.