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Donor wall art installation for The Botanic Cottage

Donor wall art installation for The Botanic Cottage

The historic Botanic Cottage has been moved to a site in the current Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RGBE).  Its was originally on Leith Walk where the RGBE was located throughout the Enlightenment until 1823. It served several purposes – a gatehouse to the gardens, a home for the head gardener, and teaching space for scientists when Edinburgh was developing its reputation as a medical school. So it has great historical significance.

Rebuilding the Botanic Cottage began in 2014 and on the 10th May 2016, the Botanic Cottage reopened to the public. The move cost £1.6 million. RGBE wanted to create a beautiful and memorable tribute to the donors who made the project possible, and they asked LaserFlair to help.

Inspiration from the garden

RGBE wanted an installation with a gardening theme, and were inspired by a tool shed wall. They wanted large pieces of wood to mount on the wall of the Cottage. These were be engraved with the names and logos of donor companies, organisations and individuals. Mounted on these batons, they wanted cut out shapes of garden tools to add interest in between the engravings. They also wanted the tool shapes to be engraved with blown up parts of RGBE’s beautiful logo.

Botanic Cottage zoom

Designed to withstand the elements

As the installation was for outdoor display, we decided that green larch or oak should be used for the large batons. Both can withstand the weather without needing any treatment. Larch was selected to keep within budget, and the boards were cut to lengths of 1.2 m so that they would fit the laser machine. To ensure robustness, the batons were cut to 25mm thick. As the laser bed is height adjustable, this was easy to accommodate.

The tool shapes were more of a challenge! We opted for 9mm plywood as the shapes had to be thick enough to be robust and the material needed to be available in large sheet sizes. Only laser ply, equivalent to indoor grade ply, can be cut successfully on the laser. So we decided to use this and treat all the shapes thoroughly to protect them from the weather.

The installation has been mounted on the north facing brick walls of the Botanic Cottage. It looks beautiful and RBGE and their donors are delighted with it.