Artists In Residence

Marjolaine Ryley, Photographic Artist in Residence


We are delighted Marjolaine Ryley is continuing as our Photographic Artist in Residence at the Physic Garden into 2021. Marjolaine is an interdisciplinary artist working with photography, writing and plants. She is currently undertaking a practice-based PhD in Fine Art at Newcastle University exploring gardens as sites of practice.

Using auto-ethnography, post-humanism and critical plant studies her engagement with the Garden interweaves creative writing, sustainable photography, plant-made imagery and collaborative workshops to instigate dialogues around human-plant relations and our place in a more than human world. Her practice montages stories of people and plant communities raising awareness about the current extinction risk to plants and the beneficial effects of gardening/growing for both humans and the environment.

Marjolaine’s research is funded through Northern Bridge Doctoral training partnership. She is also undertaking an RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture to inform her practice.

Marjolaine is collaborating with us on her new project.  We are pleased to announce that Marjolaine will be donating an archive of images of Dilston Physic Garden on completion of her residency and will facilitate educational activities as part of her residency.

Join Marjolaine at her workshop, Plants and Protest (or How to Grow your Art and Eat it) on 3rd July 1-5pm. Ignite your imagination into the incredible potential of plants – discover artists working with living materials in areas of ecology, growing and sustainability, and how growing and gardening can be an act of resistance, protest and hope. Be empowered with the knowledge and skills in horticulture – one of the most useful and hopeful gifts at this time – Read More – to register for this event email

Follow @marjolaineryley on Instagram. Marjolaine also authors a captivating blog, which includes her reflections on the Garden

Sarah Greaves, Art Therapist in Residence

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Sarah Greaves in a new role as Artist in Wellbeing in Residence at Dilston Physic Garden for 2018-2019.

Sarah is an art psychotherapist and artist and says she is a compulsive though very amateur gardener, “so the role gives me a place and a space to combine doing the things I love most”.

Through her profession Sarah says she is aware of the healing power of creative work, and also conscious of the healing energy that being in a green, living, environment gives and says “there is now research to prove what most of us knew anyway!”.

Through her residency Sarah plans to organise different types of workshops at Dilston Physic Garden that encourage people to use visual art to connect to a nature’s healing energy, and to find different ways of being with the fascinating plants that thrive in this physic garden.

Aiming to reach different groups in the community who might benefit from spending time in the physic garden, and to plan workshops around their needs, the thread running through the workshops will be ‘Contemplative Drawing’, quiet time spent relating to different aspects or parts of the Physic Garden, and sharing the reflections that this brings.

Catriona Gallagher, Visual Artist in Residence

We were very pleased to have contemporary artist Catriona Gallagher visit us for a residency in 2017. With a high level of attention to detail, we look forward to working with her again and seeing the results of the exciting ‘Artemesia’ project’.

Catriona is a visual artist based in Athens, Greece, who graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2013. Working across video, drawing and research studies, her work examines the overlooked details in our physical surroundings, constructing new patterns and meanings from them.

Plants, as a subject matter and medium, have been her focus for several years, including species Elder, Fig and Pellitory and their relationship to the built environment. Her study on Pellitory has been ongoing since 2013 through Italy, Greece and the UK, investigating how and why the common mediterranean weed grows amongst the cracks of buildings. Alongside an archive of drawings and botanical artefacts, the study has now lead to The Plant in the City, a multi-channel video installation to be exhibited in 2018, which narrates the wanderings of three characters through the city of Athens trying to find meaning in the overlooked weed.

At Dilston, during her residency from the 5th to the 19th of July 2017, Catriona developed ideas for new works and reflecting on her Pellitory study and Athina Garden City project, which founded a new mediterranean garden at A-DASH project space in Athens in 2017. To see the latest from Catriona, see

Pauline Aitken, Artist in Residence


We were honoured to have Pauline Aitken’s in residence which ended July 2017. As part of her residency, Pauline worked in response to the medicinal plants here in the Physic Garden and held 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. Pauline’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).

John Rutherford, Sculptor in Residence

We are very pleased to have Northumbrian artist John Rutherford as our resident sculptor at Dilston 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 where he 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 – come and visit to meet them all!