Artists in Iconic Buildings (Museums Galleries Scotland)

A two-year programme of opportunities for artists to take inspiration from Scotland’s museum collections, historic sites and intangible cultural heritage, and to create work celebrating Scotland’s icons past and present, by supporting museums to run artists residencies.


Thanks to Prof of Biology Maura C Flannery:
For the Press pack for the conference:

American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston

“The Herbarium as Muse: Plant Specimens as Inspiration”

Herbaria Flannery

Prof of Biology Maura C Flannery
Director, Center for Teaching and Learning
St. John’s University Jamaica, NY 11439 718-990-1860

Written by Joanne B Kaar

Portable Museum of Curiosity – inspired by Robert Dick baker & botanist of Thurso

Written by Joanne B Kaar

Click the link to see more photos here:

This “Portable Museum of Curiosity” is the result of a collaboration with Joanne B Kaar, artist, and Joanne Howdle, museum curator for Caithness Horizons, as part of Museum Galleries Scotland / Creative Scotland, Iconic Artists in Iconic Places residency 2012.
Robert Dick, Baker & Botanist of Thurso, Caithness (1811-1866). His pressed herbarium is now stored in Caithness Horizons museum Thurso. Dunnet Head, where I live, was one of his favourite places to walk and collect plants.

Written by Joanne B Kaar


Remembering Glencairn Towers – one year on

November 20th 2011 and the high rise tower blocks – Glencairn Tower, are razed to the ground in a matter of seconds. Originally built in the utopian housing era of the late 1960′s – the flats reputation demised decade by decade and by the late 1990′s they were known locally as Heroin Heights and destined for an early grave.

Prior to the demolition I was commissioned by the demolition company to photo and film the flats demolition and the preparation leading up its final moments months before. Prepared for demolition, the flats weren’t ready to give up much as all the rooms were effectively empty. Not even the light switches or door handles survived the strip process.

But look closer amongst the small brushed up piles of dust and debris left by the demolition workers were discarded photographs of a life gone by. I photographed the photos as I found them and then rescued them before they were to blown to pieces and fragmented all over Motherwell. On the back of some of the photos were mobile phone numbers and dated 2004.

One year on from the flats demolition I now want to bring the pictures and Glencairn Tower back from the brink, to track down those people in the photographs and to recreate a small historical documentation of life within the flats where now sits an empty area of grass land and weeds. As well as those people from the photographs I will also interview and photograph the very first residents of the flats.

I am re-visiting the towers under the auspices of the Iconic Artists programme through MGS and that this has given you unprecedented access to archive materials and information from the council that give an insight into the towers from design inception and their early days.

This multimedia project of installation, photography, film and audio will juxtapose Glencairn Tower from its very beginning, its first residents, its initial construction and optimism to the demise of the flats, its last residents and its final moments.

Written by Chris Leslie –

A short 3 minute showreel featuring a selection of the some of the work I produced in 2012. Ranging from self funded multimedia exhibitions in Glasgow to filming a feature length documentary in Sarajevo. More information and projects at

Written by Chris Leslie

by Joanne B Kaar

There’s lots going on at National Mining Museum Scotland at the moment as we prepare for our exhibition celebrating the creative process of our Iconic Artist, Claire Lamond.

The paint has been chosen, the text is being finalised and the graphics are almost there. Most excitingly though, Claire is putting the finishing touches to her beautiful film. The best place to find out all about it is on her blog, Seams in the Dark, but here’s a little taster:

lady  havingafag  groupshot

Written by Ellie Swinbank

The outside is made from re-claimed metal, re-using old handles and hinges. The curly metal clasp is new – the shape inspired by the one on the original moss collecting box used by Robert Dick 1811-1866.

portable museum Joanne B Kaar 12 opt portable museum Joanne B Kaar 13 opt portable museum Joanne B Kaar 14 opt

Written by Joanne B Kaar

This isn’t the final design – work-in-progress.

Lots to think about, particularly where the board will fold in half when it’s put away

Written by Joanne B Kaar

I’m still looking through the hundreds of flowers in the Robert Dick Collection, and trying to narrow it down to just a select few to feature as the pop-up’s in the portable museum of curiosity. Today I stuck at it and (for now!!) These are my chosen 5. They were all found in Caithness by Robert Dick and have been selected for conservation.

I’m trying to get bold images with a variety of leaf shapes – and not making them to scale.

My small museum boxes arrived too – the 4 boxes with glass fronts which will fit snugly under the shelf. I plan to make a series of insects /butterflies /moths for these.

The inside of the lid, I think will be left – showing the metal. This is the cardboard prototype.

From Left to Right:
Shepherds Purse
Black Bearberry
( I’m wondering if this is now known as Arctic Bearberry?)

Written by Joanne B Kaar

Claire Lamond has been working on the final scenes of her animated film inspired by National Mining Museum Scotland and the Lady Victoria Colliery, and there’s been a buzz at the Museum as plans for her exhibition start to take shape!

Follow Claire’s story so far by reading her blog: Seams in the Dark, and pay the Museum a visit.

Written by Ellie Swinbank

The prototype – I’m adding images, text and flaps to get a feel for what it will look like.
I needed this full size cardboard version to experiment with.
Filling the museum boxes and putting them in place.


This has resulted in quite a lot of printing and re-printing….
and there are still many things to be ironed out.


Each section is divided to tell a different part of the story:
What happened to Robert Dick’s plants after he picked the?


Bugs and beetles – the enemy of the herbarium collection:
Biscuit Beetle and Australian Spider Beetle. I’ll be making paper ones.
These will feature in the conservation section.


And the real thing! The metal box is being made to my design,
(ah no, not by me, but my husband Joe).
Pillow talk is all about Robert Dick baker & Botanist 1811-1866
The other man in my life at the moment!!!!!!
First try out of those smooth sliding drawers.


The drawers have a ‘stop’ on them so they can’t be pulled out completely.
I’ve ordered samples of fabric to print on – the inside text and images have to be durable.
Piano hinges on their way.


Written by Joanne B Kaar

I’m going through the herbarium sheets, this time looking more closely at the labels.
There is loads of info on them besides the actual plant specimen.
What strikes me is that, although living in the far north of Scotland, he was well connected and received many herbarium sheets from other collectors.


This time I find evidence of the Botanical Society of London in Robert Dicks collection.
Set up in 1836, it is the start of an official organisation to help distribute herbarium sheets between botanists. The name changed many times over the year, at one time becoming the Botanical Exchange Club and finally the Botanical Society of the British Isles. which is still going strong today.



Written by Joanne B Kaar


This metal box was used by Robert Dick (1811-1866) for collecting mosses.
Photos thanks to Caithness Horizons.

I’ve used it as the starting point for my new work.

The ideas are a culmination of research and work with Caithness Horizons museum curator, Joanne Howdle, I’ve been doing over the past few years about their Robert Dick collection of pressed herbarium sheets and samples in paper wrappers.
I want to tell the story about what happened to the plants after Robert Dick picked them.
He was also well know for his long walks.
Boxes with self contained info, as well as objects, and have to be opened by the public to explore them, are themes which have continued to appear on other projects every now and then.
Here is my prototype Robert Dick portable museum / museum of curiosity.


It doesn’t look very exciting. That’s the idea – the inside is to be a surprise.
The prototype is made from card and black sticky tape. It is the same proportions as Robert Dick’s moss collecting box – just bigger.
The final one will be made out of aluminium. There will be a handle on the top (and perhaps on the sides as well – it will have to be easily carried by one person, ideally with one hand.


Wild flowers pop-up, the sides of the box become display boards, shelves slide out from the front and sides. A Robert Dick inspired board game opens out to the front.


There will only be one or two items you will be able to remove from the box completely, one will be the original book about Robert Dick, by Samuel Smiles printed in 1878 and given to my by blog follower, Faisal, who found it in a charity shop in Australia and sent it to me. The other item will be a DVD about the Robert Dick collection and work it has inspired.
Yesterday was the first journey for the prototype – I took it so show Joanne Howdle and also staff from Strathnaver Museum who were in Caithness Horizons on a training day.


I wanted them to experience opening the box to discover what was inside (I didn’t show them any photos of what to expect beforehand).
The magic worked, even on rickety cardboard and sticky tape box with post-it stickers indicating the imagery, they were excited to see how it opened out to a display.
There is of course much yet to do, but I’ll keep you posted as it develops.

Written by Joanne B Kaar

Click the link to follow my research and artwork as it develops – inspired by Robert Dick, the baker and botanist of Thurso 1811-1866. His pressed herbarium sheets are now in Caithness Horizons museum, Thurso, but as I am finding out, there was a distribution network via the Botanical Exchange Club. For my residency, Iconic artists in Iconic places, I will be making new artwork inspired by what happened to Robert Dicks plants after he picked them.

Written by Joanne B Karr

As part of Creative Scotland’s Iconic Artists in Iconic Places scheme, National Mining Museum Scotland has commissioned artist Claire Lamond to create an animated film in response to the Museum and its setting at the Lady Victoria Colliery, Midlothian.

Follow her creative process in her blog, Seams in the Dark.

Written by Ellie Swinbank