Gallery Oldham’s latest temporary exhibition looks blooming great – but it also has an important environmental message.
On June 24 sculptor Ruth Moilliet’s flower-filled exhibition ‘Devotions to the Goddess Flora’ opens in the borough.
Ruth has always used plants and nature as inspiration for her work, celebrating their abundance and beauty. With a heightened realisation of how climate change is affecting our environment, more recently Ruth’s sculptures have taken on a different meaning.
The exhibition’s title comes from a quote used in an essay by a local Victorian botanist Thomas Rogers. He and three others travelled from Oldham to Scotland to study and collect mountain plant species. A further expedition included the botanist James Nield, who wrote a second essay.
These papers, along with accompanying watercolour illustrations were preserved together in a unique and beautifully bound book, Botanical Excursions, Breadalbane and Grampians 1874-1876 which Ruth drew inspiration from. Most of the species collected are now endangered. This book is still owned by the Rogers family but has been loaned to Gallery Oldham for the purposes of this exhibition.
All the floral plates have been photographed and framed and will appear alongside the book. Herbarium specimens collected on these two expeditions will also be displayed.
Ruth has created a response to these written accounts and the plight of these plant species by creating larger-than-life sculptures, made from discarded single use plastics. These flowers will form a huge hanging installation.
In making the flowers vastly oversized Ruth hopes that these plants will show their importance to the audience below. The work is big, bright, beautiful and to be enjoyed but there is a dark message behind this beauty that could be overlooked at first glance.
Councillor Peter Dean, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, said: “Climate change is one of the biggest issues we all face.
“By highlighting the issue in a creative way, like Ruth does, it may make us all think about our actions a bit more.”
Join us for special tours of the exhibition with the artist at 2pm on Saturday 24 June and 2pm on Wednesday 26 July. The exhibition runs until Saturday 7 October.