The idea of the botanic garden – a world in a chamber where nature and culture meet – has long attracted Alison Turnbull. Since being artist in residence at the University of Oxford Botanic Gardens in 2005, she has returned to the theme and is currently working on a book about an idiosyncratic botanic garden in the west of Scotland.
A Garden of Numbers, made especially for ArtSeen Editions, brings together a black and white photograph of a tiered fountain in Rome’s Orto Botanico with a digital print of Pascal’s triangle of numbers. Embedded in this digital image crisscrossed with coloured lines and hand-tinted with watercolour - is the Fibonacci number sequence. This mathematical sequence is famously present everywhere in nature – in the seed head of a sunflower, the pods of a pinecone and the population of a beehive. The juxtaposition of the two images in A Garden of Numbers, which is at once formal and intuitive, invokes human attempts to comprehend and contain nature’s profusion.
Alison Turnbull studied in Madrid at Academia Arjona (1975–1977); in Surrey at West Surrey College of Art and Design (1977–1978) and in Corsham at Bath Academy of Art (1978–1981). Since the 1980’s she has lived and worked in London.
Turnbull has had solo exhibitions at Matt’s Gallery London (2018); Art Seen, Nicosia (2016); Shandy Hall, North Yorkshire (2014); De La Warr Pavilion, East Sussex (2013); Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh (2012); and Matt's Gallery, London (2010). She recently had an exhibition at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to accompany the publication of her book Another Green World: Linn Botanic Gardens, Encounters with a Scottish Arcadia, Art/Books (2015).
Recent group exhibitions include In the Future Collyer Bristow Gallery, London (2018); 31 Women Breese Little, London; Five East Pieces Large Glass, London (2017); Seeing Round Corners: the Art of the Circle Turner Contemporary, Margate (2016); Re:Bandera Centro de Memoria, Paz y Reconcilliacion, Bogota; Blackrock Lydney Park Estate, Gloucestershire (2016); Compression Ormston HouseGallery, Limerick (2015); Multiplicities, Art Seen, Nicosia (2015); Colour on Paper, Galeria Leme, São Paolo (2014); Summer Exhibition Royal Academy of Art, London (2014); Universal Fragments: Conversations with Trevor Shearer, Large Glass, London (2013); Galápagos Centro de Arte Moderna (CAM), Lisbon (2013); The Bluecoat, Liverpool and The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2012); The Russian Club Gallery, London (2011); On the Edge of the World, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, a British Council touring exhibition (2010) and Parallel Remix, Leonard Hutton Galleries, New York (2010).
She has held residencies at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden (2005); the Department of Entomology, Natural History Museum, London (2009); Cove Park in western Scotland (2011) and most recently in Chocó, Colombia with Más Arte Más Acción.
She has also undertaken architectural commissions and is currently working on a project for Peterhouse Technology Park in Cambridge, to be completed in 2017.
Her work is in major collections including Arts Council England; The British Council; Clifford Chance, London; Deutsche Bank AG, London; Government Art Collection, London; Imperial War Museum, London; Imperial College Health Care Trust, London and Southampton City Art Gallery.
Alison Turnbull is represented by Matt’s Gallery, London.