Exeter’s museum acquires major artwork by Exeter artist
Exeter City Council’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) has announced the acquisition of Biophilia: The Exeter Florilegium by Exeter-based artist Amy Shelton
Biophilia: The Exeter Florilegium (2020) was originally made for RAMM’s Covid-19 commission, funded by Arts Council England. The work was purchased with assistance from the Friends of RAMM, the Kent Kingdon Bequest and an Arts Council England/V&A purchase grant.
Shelton’s practice explores the intricate connections between biodiversity and human health and wellbeing. The Exeter Florilegium includes a herbarium of pressed plant and wildflower specimens compiled on Shelton’s daily lockdown walks around Exeter in spring and summer 2020. In medieval Latin a ‘florilegium’ literally translates as a gathering of flowers, but would also refer to a collection of written extracts gathered from a larger body of work.
Shelton’s artwork includes flower contributions and personal messages from staff and patients from the Royal Devon & Exeter hospital, as well as specimens from the gardens of people self-isolating. This work captures and preserves personal experiences of the first lockdown and the solace people found in nature during this time.
Amy Shelton said;
‘The Exeter Florilegium tells a unique story of the pandemic in Exeter and is an elegy to the healing power of nature as well as an acknowledgement of the incredible efforts of the staff at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
‘The artwork maps the biodiverse wild plants that flourish across the city which encircle the quiet stories captured by the community of the hospital. For it to be in RAMM’s collection as a physical record of this complex time will mean it can be seen by the many people who contributed to its making.’
Shelton’s Biophilia joins the outstanding collection of work by celebrated South West-based artists such as Peter Randall-Page and Susan Derges whose work also captures human interactions with nature. Additionally, Shelton’s work resonates with historic items in the collection, such as the botanical illustrations of William Keble Martin. This is one of several works that reflect the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown that have been acquired for RAMM.
RAMM’s Contemporary Art Curator Lara Goodband said;
‘Amy Shelton of Honeyscribe created a beautiful and emotionally-charged tribute to the Covid pandemic for RAMM’s contemporary art Covid commission during 2020 and 21. Thanks to the generosity of the funders, RAMM is able to acquire this stunning artwork for its collection which will be an important legacy for future generations.
‘The work comes to RAMM, following Amy’s recent successful showing of a partner piece at London’s Royal Academy. Being able to support and nurture artists based in the city and the region is also a very positive outcome of the acquisition.’