Thanks to National Trust of Scotland and the Head Gardener at Falkland Palace I am going to be able to access the plants in their beautiful Physic Garden over the next few years. It contains over 50 Rennaissance-era plants that would have been used medicinally, bedded in the foundations of what was once the Great Hall.
They have also created an Apothecary in the palace, where you can learn about cures for ailments that affected medieval royals and common folk alike. It is the 17th century version of a pharmacy.
The introduction was kindly made by one of my art class students, Rose, who had helped them to research and establish the Apothecary in their cellar – there’s lots more information about the Apothecary on the NTS blog here. It has begun a rich and exciting vein of research for me that is the beginning of a whole new body of work I envisage developing over a number of years, exploring the subject of plants, medicine and magic.
It is a vast and fascinating subject. Evidence of medical uses of plants goes back to the iron age. We have had wise men/women in communities, witches, witch-doctors, druids etc who knew how to use the plants that grew locally and further afield. Religious communities have also played a key role in healing the sick and often cultivated plants for this purpose. The history of the development of modern medicine and pharmacology, and the ressurgence of interest in modern day herbalism is fascinating.
Below you can see a recipe in one of the books I have most enjoyed reading in my research ‘The Magic of Herbs’ by David Conway. The recipe for the ‘draught of immortality’ is the inspiration for a new painting to eveolve!